Brussels, 12 Oct 2004
This year's European Union Contest for Young Scientists has been won by projects on microphone manufacturing, synthesising anti-depressants, and ultrasonic detection for gas chromatography, carried out by students from Austria, Denmark and Germany respectively.
Some of Europe's best young scientists had gathered in Dublin, Ireland, for the ceremony on 29 September, hosted by the Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney. The winners were selected by an international jury of 15 experts, and were judged on the basis of their work and interviews with the jury.
In order to be considered for one of three first prizes worth 5,000 euro, each of the contestants in the EU contest must have first won a top prize at a national science competition, thus ensuring a high standard of scientific achievement.
One of the first prizes was awarded to the Austrian team of Martin Knöbel, Gerhard Schöny, and Florian Grössbacher, for their 'breakthrough in the manufacture of condenser microphones'. The team from HTBLuVA Mödling Secondary College developed and manufactured the first automated self-tuning device for condenser microphone membranes, which avoids unwanted vibrations and as a result reduces production time and costs.
Charlotte Strandkvist from Svendborg College in Denmark claimed another of the first prizes for her work to improve the method for synthesising an antidepressant drug known as N-methyl fluoxetine in the laboratory. Ms Strandkvist, 18, revealed that the project was designed to help students realise that laboratory work has a real effect on people's lives.
Mario Chemnitz from Zschornewitz in Germany walked away with the last 5,000 euro prize for his project 'ultrasonic detector for gas chromatography'. Traditional gas chromatographs are very expensive, so Mr Chemnitz developed a cheap but effective ultrasonic detector which makes use of the relationship between sound velocity and the molecular mass of a gas. The analyses can be done simply using a PC software package.
Second and third prizes worth 3,000 euro and 1,500 euro respectively were awarded to scientists from Poland, Germany, Turkey and Lithuania, for their work in areas including computing, biology, physics and mathematics. Honorary and special prizes were also awarded to contestants who, in the jury's opinion, would most benefit from the chance to take all-expenses-paid trips to major European research facilities such as CERN, ESA, and EMBL.
Ms Harney observed that: 'This competition will highlight and promote the opportunities that science can offer to young people and also ensure a greater public appreciation of science and of the role it plays in every aspect of our daily lives [...].
'International competitiveness is becoming increasingly dependent on scientific and technological skills and the young people competing in the 16th European Union Contest for Young Scientists are the next generation of entrepreneurs - I am confident that the future will be safe in their hands,' she concluded.
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