Limerick’s STEM stars shine at regional awards event

DB Site Director Padraig Fitzgerald presenting the STEM Stars award to Coláiste Nano Nagle student Maha Shahzadi

THE future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the Mid-West was highlighted at the final of this year’s BD STEM Stars Awards at the company’s Research Centre Ireland (RCI) in Limerick.

Students from five shortlisted schools presented projects focused on tackling unmet health issues for the annual showcase aimed at encouraging the best young STEM minds in the region to deepen understanding of their capacity to transform health in the years ahead.

The STEM Stars programme, which is supported by the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, is the biggest awards programme of its kind kind in the region, offering a total prize-fund of €25,000, with the top prize of €10,000, which will go towards stem related facilities at their school

Overall winner Maha Shahzadi from Coláiste Nano Nagle impressed the  judges for her accessibility app for visually impaired people that allows them shop independently.

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She said the award was a significant honour for her as a female because there are not as many females as males involved in the STEM area.

“I would like to like get involved in that area and be part of big changes in the world,” she added.

The judges had a difficult task as each of the five finalists came with inspired projects and presentations. Second place went to Salesian Secondary School in Pallaskenry, who investigated the use of external electrical stimulation in the treatment and management of Reynaud’s disease. They won €6,000 their school’s STEM facilities.

The Salesian Secondary School team from Pallaskenry who won second place and €6,000 at the BD STEM Stars awards.

Third place and a €4,000 prize went to Desmond College, Newcastle West for their wearable early warning system to alert children and their parents of UV rays that cause skin cancer.

The final two shortlisted schools, Thomond Community College, Limerick and Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed in Thurles, received €1,000 each for their projects. Thomond Community College explored how to reduce incidents of concussion in high impact sports and Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed created an app that helps manage diabetes including a feature for students to contact a teacher if having a hypo or hypoglycemic episode.

The schools submitted their final entries to BD last month and were assigned a mentor from the company to work with them on the project. The students had to show how they firstly identified an issue and then how, through research, testing and learning, their approach to solving it by using what they learn in STEM subjects.

BD Site Director Padraig Fitzgerald said the overall objective was to help promote awareness among students of the possibilities of STEM, from the potential to impact real and positive change on human health to the rewarding careers that can be forged in the sector.

“We also want to widen understanding of the diversity of roles within STEM as the opportunity and potential is there for so many people to have life-long, meaningful careers in the area,” he explained

To find out more about the winning entries and the BD STEM Stars winners from this year and previous years, visit stars.