University College Dublin Wins Prestigious ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge 2020 for its Hydrogen Freight Concept

By November 26, 2020 4   min read  (769 words)

November 26, 2020 |

University College Dublin Wins Prestigious ESB Inter Colleges Challenge 2020 for its Hydrogen Freight Concept
  • Teams competed online to set out a vision for a hydrogen-based transport system to move Ireland’s freight sector to net-zero carbon emissions
  • UCD will now represent Ireland at the leading international case competition ENGCOMM 2021
  • Queen’s University Belfast takes runner-up spot with Cork IT in third place

University College Dublin students Aoife Cunningham (from Kildare), Scott Mulligan (Dublin), Allannah Duffy (Mayo) and Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Dublin) will represent Ireland at the international engineering and commerce competition, ENGCOMM 2021 after their team won this year’s ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge.

UCD pulled ahead in the grand final against stiff competition from Queen’s University Belfast and Cork Institute of Technology.

The teams were tasked to set out a vision for Ireland’s hydrogen economy in 2030 with a specific focus on transport and moving the country’s freight sector to net-zero carbon emissions – as the adoption of hydrogen will play a role in Ireland’s transition to a clean energy future.

UCD Award WinnersThe winning UCD team (pictured in the attached) will be presented with the prestigious McLoughlin perpetual trophy at a later date – in line with Covid-19 protocols. They were coached by Associate Professor Aisling Ní Annaidh (Wicklow) who won her third ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge, following victories in 2014 and 2015.

They will now represent Ireland at the international case competition, ENGCOMM 2021, which will take place virtually next February, where they will compete against other worldwide universities.

ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge 2020 took place online for the first time due to Covid-19 restrictions, over the course of two days on Thursday 19th November and Friday 20th November as 36 students from nine colleges across Ireland pitched their creative solutions to an expert panel of judges.

Participants were tested over a full range of engineering, financial, marketing and team working skills. Other winners on the day included Waterford Institute of Technology for Best Technical Solution and last year’s overall winners, Technological University Dublin for Best Commercial Solution.

Following the event, Marguerite Sayers, ESB’s Executive Director, Customer Solutions said: “The quality of the work undertaken by each of the teams over the two days demonstrates their ability to think critically and creatively about the challenges facing Ireland and the energy sector in the transition to a low carbon future. Each team worked incredibly well together in different circumstances this year as our event took place online for the first time due to Covid-19.

“I was hugely impressed by the novel solutions to the challenge that each team pitched to the expert panel. I would like to thank all teams for their participation and wish UCD the best of luck as they represent Ireland on the international stage at ENGCOMM 2021.”

ESB: ESB is Ireland’s leading energy company established in 1927. Since its foundation, ESB has brought light and energy to communities in Ireland and beyond, helping them to reach their full potential. Today, ESB is leading the transition to a low carbon energy future, powered by clean electricity. This involves investing in low carbon and renewable generation, developing a smart network capable of supporting the further electrification of society and empowering customers to take more control over their energy use.  

ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge: Hosted by ESB annually since 2014, this competition is open to third-level colleges with teams typically comprising of three engineering and one commerce student. ESB sponsors the winning team to represent Ireland in the international ENGCOMM competition in 2021 with the winning team also receiving placements with the organisation. This year’s challenge was based on ESB’s Brighter Future strategy and focused on transport and the role that hydrogen can play in moving Ireland’s freight sector to zero-carbon emissions by 2030. It was a challenging case that tested the engineering, commercial and marketing skills of all the teams in preparation for the international competition at ENGCOMM 2021, which will take place virtually for the first time due to Covid-19.

The McLaughlin Perpetual Trophy: The ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge McLoughlin Perpetual Trophy was inspired by a young and visionary Irish graduate of UCD and NUIG Dr Thomas McLaughlin and his work on the Shannon Scheme. Its cylindrical shape is inspired by the penstocks at Ardnacrusha which is etched with a map of the roads, rivers, canals and fields of the Shannon area. It is based on one of the maps used by the Shannon Scheme constructors which is in the ESB Archive. The trophy was created by award-winning sculpture Michelle Byrne, a graduate of GMIT.  She lives in the Blackstairs area of Co Carlow and for this piece she chose the dark Limestone of Freshford Co Kilkenny.

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