Limerick student named overall winner at 2024 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Seán O'Sullivan (17) from Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom became the 60th overall winner of the BY Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Photo: Fennell Photography.

ONE hard-working young Limerick mind has come away from the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSE) as the 60th overall winner of the prestigious national award.

17-year-old Seán O’Sullivan, a fifth year student from Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, County Limerick, has won the top prize with a project focused on the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence.

Seán’s project, ‘VerifyMe: A new approach to authorship attribution in the post-ChatGPT era’, was awarded the prestigious BTYSTE perpetual trophy, presented to the Coláiste Chiaráin last night (Friday) at the RDS by Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Managing Director of BT Ireland, Shay Walsh.

Since OpenAI released ChatGPT in November of 2022, the line between human-written and AI-generated text has been widely blurred, leaving academia and industry searching for a reliable method to discern “true” human authorship. In his project, the budding young Limerick scientist considered the challenges of author verification in the context of the significant improvements in Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. 

He developed a novel approach to author authentication that identifies stylistic differences to verify authorship.

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Speaking about Seán’s brainwave, chairman of the technology group judging panel, Leonard Hobbs, said that “the judges were hugely impressed by Seán’s innovative approach to addressing a problem that has only recently emerged and his programming skills in architecting a complex software solution.”

Seán has now become the 60th recipient to win the highly coveted trophy, along with the top prize of €7,500. He will now also represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) taking place later this year in the European City for Science 2024 – Katowice, Poland. 

The young mind is no stranger to BTYSE success, and this year will mark his second win in a row at the competition, having taken home third place last year in the Intermediate Individual category.

Speaking at the awards ceremony last night, Education Minister Norma Foley said: “I’d like to sincerely congratulate Seán O’Sullivan from Coláiste Chiaráin in Limerick on his tremendous achievement of winning top prize in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2024. His win is testament to his hard work and dedication and the unwavering support of his family, teachers, and school.” 

The exhibition continues today (Saturday) at the RDS in Dublin.