European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) Ireland and the CEIA – Cork’s Technology Network – are calling on secondary school students to take their first step into the world of space exploration. Teams of senior cycle students from across Ireland are being asked to design, build and launch mini-satellites in the shape of a soft drink can as part of the ESERO Ireland and CEIA CanSat Competition. The competition, now in its seventh year, was officially launched today (Wednesday) in Limerick Institute of Technology by ‘space tourist’ and Limerick man Cyril Bennis, as part of National Space Week.
A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite in the size and shape of a soft drink can and is a European Space Agency initiative designed to inspire young people to pursue a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the availability of a highly qualified workforce in the space industry of the future. Each team will have to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite to their CanSat including power, sensors and communications and provide a parachute to ensure the can has a gentle landing.
“Cyril Bennis will be one of the first Irish people to orbit earth on XCor’s commercial spacecraft Lynx II in the coming months so I am delighted that he is here today to launch the 2017 CanSat Competition. CanSat is a very unique programme aimed at increasing young people’s awareness of the importance of space research. It is timely that the launch of the competition coincides with Space Week – Ireland’s newest national STEM week, which runs in parallel with World Space Week,” said Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager at Science Foundation Ireland.
The CanSat Ireland competition is run in partnership with five Institutes of Technology who recruit and train teams from local schools and run regional competitions. These are Athlone Institute of Technology, Cork Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology, and Limerick Institute of Technology. Regional finalists will go forward to the national final in April 2017 and the winning team from the national competition will represent Ireland in the European competition in June 2017. Team ConfeyCan from Confey College in Leixlip represented Ireland and came third in the Advanced Category at the European CanSat Final in 2016.
Speaking at the launch of CanSat 2017 Dr. Eamon Connolly, CEIA Promotion Officer, said: “CanSat is a fun and engaging space project that simulates a real satellite into the volume of a soft drink can. Students build and launch their own satellite and get first-hand practical experience of a real space project. This initiative is designed to encourage and excite senior second level students as to the possibilities of a career in science and engineering.”
The competition is a joint collaboration between ESERO Ireland and the CEIA and is co-funded by the European Space Agency and Science Foundation Ireland.
“ESA is Europe’s gateway to space. Space exploration is a really exciting area and there are huge career opportunities available in the sector – for example there are more than 2000 scientists, engineers and information technology specialists working for the ESA across, including 28 Irish scientists and engineers. CanSat is about showcasing these amazing opportunities to the next generation and get students thinking about a career in space,” added Dr Connolly.
Managed by CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory in association with Science Foundation Ireland and ESERO Ireland, Space Week is an opportunity for students, teachers, and parents alike to focus on the wonders and realities of the Universe. Space Week runs from 3 to 8 October 2016.