GMIT launches technology competition for secondary school students
Engineering students and volunteers from local hi-tech companies mentor 11 teams for CanSat 2015
Date Article Written:
Monday, November 3, 2014
GMIT’s Engineering School has launched an exciting technology competition, CanSat 2015, in collaboration with five local technology companies in Galway, who will mentor and prepare 11 secondary school teams for the challenge of building a CanSat, setting it on a scientific mission, and returning it to a safe landing.
A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can.This is the second year in a row GMIT is hosting the regional heat of the European CanSat 2015 competition.
The challenge for the students is to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. The CanSat is then launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket or dropped from a platform or captive balloon and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and achieve a safe landing.
CanSats offer a unique opportunity for students to have a first practical experience of a real space project. The students are responsible for designing the CanSat, selecting its mission, integrating the components, testing, preparing for launch and then analysing the data.
The eleven teams competing in the regional heat in GMIT are from GairmScoil Mhuire, Athenry, Calasanctius College, Oranmore, St Jarlath's, Tuam, Dunmore Community College, Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiarain, Carraroe, Galway Community College, Galway city, Dominican College, Taylor's Hill and Mercy Convent, Galway city.
The seven volunteer engineers are from local high-technology companies such as Schneider-Electric, HP, Avaya, Valeo Vision Systems and CelTrak. They will work alongside GMIT Civic Engagement students to mentor the school teams in regular sessions from now until February. The winners will represent the west in the Irish final in Birr Castle in March 2015. The Irish winners will then go forward to compete at European level.
GMIT competition organiser, Dr Paul O'Dowd, says: "We had one of our first sessions during the Open Day this month and there was a great atmosphere of enthusiasm in the lab. It looks like this year's competition will be great fun and a worthwhile experience for all involved."
Emer Cahill, lecturer in the Dept of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, is leading the pupils through the Arduino software and sensor hardware technology which will enable the pupils and their mentors to build the devices. “CanSat is a fantastic way to get secondary school pupils switched on to the excitement of this technology," she says.
The GMIT heat of the competition is co-ordinated by GMIT Schools Liaison Office Dr Carina Ginty, who says science and technology events such as CanSat are proving more and more popular each year with secondary school pupils.
The National CanSat competition is sponsored by the European Space Agency and Science Foundation Ireland's European Space Education Resource Office.
Pictured at the Cansat lab session in GMIT, L to R: Manuel Desbonnet of HP, Tom Hansbury of GairmScoil Mhuire, Athenry, Dr Paul O'Dowd of GMIT, Nicki Anderson of Taylors Hill and teacher Laura Thornton, Taylors Hill.