Tipp Town Quasar team to represent Ireland in F1 schools challenge

Quasar from St Ailbes Secondary School in Tipperary Town have been declared the overall winners of the 2012 F1 in Schools Technology Challenge, powered in Ireland by the Irish Computer Society, at the national finals held in Griffith College Dublin.

Team members Sinead Cummins (Team Manager), Maeve O’ Gorman (Marketing and Communications Manager), Gerard Barlow (Manufacturing Engineer), Megan Cleary (Resource Manager) and Deirbhle Hennessy (Graphic Designer) were co-ordinated by teachers Sean Fitzpatrick and Michael Quirke. The team fought off fierce competition from 23 other finalist teams from all over Ireland to claim the national title and trophy as well as the opportunity to represent Ireland in the 2012 World Championships in a location yet to be decided in Autumn 2012. The overall winners receive €2,000 in prize money and a place at the world finals.

Work for the 2012 Finals began last September with schools registering their interest in competing. Intense competition followed with 600 students representing 120 second-level schools from across the country battling their way through the various stages of the competition to reach the National Finals.

In addition to racing head to head, the competing teams were judged on the quality of engineering, portfolio, resource management, marketing, graphic design and sponsorship activities and on a verbal presentation of their work.

“Congratulations to all the teams who took part in this year’s competition. The standards were exceptionally high and it is always great to see how enthusiastic the students are about the competition from modelling and planning their cars to racing them.” said Irish Computer CEO Jim Friars. “The commitment demonstrated by both the students and their teachers is incredible. The teams have been working on their cars and projects since September and it really shows when they come together for the National Finals.”

The F1 in schools challenge, powered in Ireland by the Irish Computer Society, is a response to a recognised skills shortage in computing and engineering, with technology courses having experienced a significant decline in CAO applications over the past number of years.

“The Discover Science and Engineering Programme (DSE) supports the F1 in Schools Challenge as a fantastic way in which to engage second-level students and encourage them to develop their creativity, problem-solving and innovation skills. Such initiatives can ignite their passion for science and technology, which is vital in attracting them to take up third level courses in these subjects. DSE is delighted to work with the Irish Computer Society in encouraging these students to make CAO choices relating to science and technology that will help us address skills shortages, particularly in the areas of computing and engineering” said Dr Graham Love, Director of the Discover Science & Engineering Programme, Science Foundation Ireland.

Quasar will now progress to the world championships which will be held in Autumn 2012 where they will compete against national winners from 32 countries from around the world.

“Imagine the pride a school would feel if they won four ‘All Ireland’ football titles out of 5 attempts. Well, that is what the students of St. Ailbe’s have just achieved in winning the National Formula 1 in Schools Technology Challenge for 2012,” said Principal Mr Peter Creedon. “To achieve this level of success requires hours of preparation and good expertise in science, technology, research, design and marketing. I say well done to the students on a fantastic achievement and a ‘bualadh bos’ to their mentors for their commitment and inspiration to the students of St. Ailbe’s. Bring on the world championships.”