Friday, 8th January 2021: The winner of the 57th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) has been announced as Gregory Tarr, aged 17, a 6th year student from Bandon Grammar School Co. Cork. Gregory has taken
home the top prize of €7,500 and the BTYSTE perpetual trophy for his project titled “Detecting state-of-the-art deepfakes”. The announcement was made at the first ever virtual BTYSTE awards ceremony streamed live from
the Mansion House. Gregory presented his project in the senior age group of the Technology category.
Gregory impressed the judges with his project using a sophisticated artificial intelligence software program that can efficiently detect DeepFake media with state-of-the-art accuracy. The software, which is over 150,000 lines of code, made significant improvements on speed and efficiency when compared to the current best model without sacrificing its ability to accurately detect the fake. This tool could potentially be deployed at scale to filter out DeepFake media making the internet a safer place. This was Gregory’s fifth time competing at BTYSTE having competed on four other occasions in the RDS.
Chair of the Technology judging panel, Mr Leonard Hobbs from Trinity College Dublin, said that “the winner this year demonstrated an expertise in computer science which was well beyond his years. The level of coding he deployed in developing the extremely complex program which detects fake videos, was guided by his deep understanding of the state of the art of this leading edge technology”. He went onto say that “the judges have been continually impressed by Gregory’s projects at the BT Young Scientist competition over the past few years and they were delighted that he had progressed to winning the top award this year”.
Gregory will also represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which is scheduled to go ahead in Salamanca Spain in September 2021. Gregory's project can be found here
Speaking at the live awards ceremony this afternoon Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said, “Congratulations to all the students who took part in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition this year, a particular word of congratulations to the award winner of the BTYSTE 2021, Gregory Tarr on his impressive project. I am inspired by all of the students’ ambitions to tackle from a scientific and technological view the national and international issues facing us in today’s society, including the global pandemic, climate change, mental health and socio-economic challenges. It is encouraging to witness the level of creativity and innovation of the students as demonstrated through their meticulously researched and ingenious projects. Each student is a credit to themselves, their families, schools, communities, and every one of them should be proud of their accomplishments.”
“I would like to extend my thanks to everyone involved in ensuring the first ever virtual BTYSTE was an incredible success; the organisers, the judges, the dedicated teachers; and of course, the parents, guardians and families whose support is absolutely key to this unique and important event.”
Speaking at today’s award ceremony Shay Walsh, Managing Director, BT Ireland said, “Congratulations to all of our participants, and particularly to all our winners. For more than five decades the exhibition has shown the ingenuity of Ireland’s youth and this year’s virtual exhibition is no exception. When I reflect on last year’s award ceremony, when I spoke in front of an audience of over 1,800 people, little did I know what creativity, critical thinking and technical innovation we would need to use to be able to deliver this exhibition during a pandemic.
Students this year really went beyond limits to present their projects to our judges online and they are a credit to their schools, communities, and families. I would like to thank all of those who put such a remarkable event together this year in a virtual setting. Together, by participating and supporting, you have provided a ray of hope and optimism in these dark days. You’ve spotlighted the talent that exists in communities across the island of Ireland and at a time when we must stay at home, you have helped showcase that talent to people across the world – as of this morning visitors from 77 countries have viewed the online exhibition.”
The award for Group winners went to Abby Mullins, Chloe Murphy and Megan Carroll from Moate Community School in Co. Westmeath for their project “Wool-Savior of Our Sea”. These talented young students developed a project which looked at developing a wool blanket which allows the timely and thorough removal of oil slicks following oil spills. Their project was entered in the Intermediate group of the Biological and Ecological category. Abby, Chloe and Megan’s project can be viewed here.
The Individual runner-up award was presented to Jack Quirke from Colaiste Treasa in Co. Cork for his project titled “Investigating possible vegetable oil toxicity using nematodes as environmental bioindicators”. Jack competed at intermediate level in the Biological and Ecological category. His project can be viewed