April 27, 2018 - Following 2 days of strong competition in the CanSat Ireland National Finals during Tech Week 2018, a team of students from Marist College, Athlone, won the coveted national title and will go on to represent Ireland at the 2018 European CanSat Finals, to be held at the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) on the island of Santa Maria, Azores. The CanSat Ireland competition is an ESERO Ireland collaboration, co-funded by the European Space Agency and Science Foundation Ireland and coordinated by CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory.

The victory marks the end of an intense competition that began in October 2017 during Space Week.  All participants in this year’s competition have performed admirably, and the standard of scientific literacy on display has been truly impressive.

A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite developed in the size and shape of a soda can.  A European Space Agency initiative, the competition fosters an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) careers by offering students a hands-on experience of a space-themed project. The multidisciplinary nature of the project ensures students are exposed to industry standards in a broad array of potential career paths.

In recent months, regional competitions have taken place across Ireland, in partnership with the Institutes of Technology in Athlone (AIT), Cork (CIT), Dublin (DIT), Galway (GMIT), Limerick (LIT), Sligo (ITS) and Tralee (ITT). 

Regional winners from Marist College (AIT), Douglas Community School, (CIT), Confey Community College (DIT), Coláiste Muire (GMIT), St Mary’s CBS (LIT/ITT), and Ursuline College (ITS) gathered in Emo Court, Portlaoise Co. Laois, on Thursday 26th April, and launched their mini-satellites in rockets built and launched by the Irish Rocketry Society.  On Friday, 27th April, these national finalists presented their analysis, recordings and flight patterns to the judging panel consisting of John O'Donoghue CEO of Enbio, Marie Walsh, Department of Applied Science, Limerick Institute of Technology and Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager.

Congratulating Marist College, the 2018 CanSat Ireland National Winners, Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager, Science Foundation Ireland said:

It is a fantastic achievement for Marist College to win this national CanSat competition. Through Science Foundation Ireland, ESERO supports and encourages initiatives like CanSat to help ensure that we have an engaged and scientifically informed student body.  These students represent the future of our science industries, and we are determined to facilitate their journey towards securing Ireland’s place as a world leader in scientific research, discovery and innovation.”

Speaking on behalf of Xilinx Ireland and Industry Cluster Group MIDAS Ireland, Peng Lim said, “Xilinx Ireland and Midas Ireland are delighted to support this exciting competition which requires Hardware, Software, Systems design knowledge and strong Team Work – an excellent pathway for our future Engineers

Eighteen teams will participate in the European finals this year: the winners of the CanSat national competitions from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Nordic (joint competition Finland-Sweden-Norway), Portugal, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, as well a team from Hungary selected directly by ESA. 

Ireland has performed admirably in recent European finals, placing 3rd, and 2nd in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and Marist College will no doubt hope to build on this success.