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Cork students share coveted BD award at prestigious STEM Stars competition

Two Kinsale Community College students were crowned 2024 BD STEM Stars after winning the top prize in the biggest Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)competition in Munster, run by BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), one of the world’s leading med-tech companies.

Etaoin Healy Bastow and Ronan Hawkins became the first Cork students to share the coveted BD STEM Stars Award winning their school €10,000 for STEM related upgrades. 

First Year student Etaoin (13) became the youngest contestant ever to make the finals. Her project was a ‘wound protection cage’ to advance wound healing, a solution she devised after an injury her mother received three years ago. 

Third Year student Ronan Hawkins also picked up ‘Best Presentation’ Award. His project was a radiology tool harnessing neural networks to deliver early diagnosis from CT scans and MRIs.

Second place in the competition went to Amy Hennessy and Juliette Purcell from Coláiste Mhuire, Ennis, Co. Clare for an app that helps prevent anterior cruciate ligament injuries in sports women.  Their research discovered that young women developed ligament related sports injuries whilst undertaking men’s exercise programmes despite different body make-ups.

Third place was claimed by Gaelcholáiste Charraig Ui Leighin student Grainne Cronin for her project ‘Níl a thuilleadh oighear oighear babaí (No More Ice, Ice Baby)’. Best Live Demo Award went to Desmond College, Limerick for their SmartOtoscope project.

The BD 2024 STEM Stars Award - supported by the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB), is the biggest awards programme in Munster. The competition was launched five years ago by BD to promote and encourage participation in STEM subjects for second level students with a brief to devise solutions that positively impact on and advance the world of healthcare.

In addition to the competition itself, students also received a tour of the high-tech BD Research Centre Ireland (RCI) facility before the announcement and presentations from Senior Manager, Design Assurance Engineering at BD RCI Dr John Carey and Site Lead for BD RCI, Seán Wall. 

Mr Wall said, “This is a special day for all of us at BD and one we look forward to with great excitement as we get to see the incredible pool of STEM talent that’s coming through in second level schools. We set out with this project five years ago to encourage awareness of the potential of STEM to improve the world of healthcare and to see where we have arrived at, with so many schools and incredible talent taking part, makes it a journey worthwhile.”

Donncha Ó Treasaigh, Director of Schools at Limerick and Clare ETB said: “The promotion of STEM among students is a very important objective of ours at the ETB and having one of the world’s leading med-tech companies weigh in with a competition like this is something that we are very privileged to have in the Munster area. There has been a huge response from the schools, and this is a competition we see going from strength to strength. I also want to complement the BD team on this as the scale and reach of the competition gets bigger and more exciting every year.”

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