The SERC Water Boys find themselves on the Crest of a Wave.
A group of South Eastern Regional College applied science students are finalist in the Eco-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Award.
They are also up for the public vote People’s Choice Award and have reached the semi-finals of the Catalyst Inc Invent Programme 2020.
A SERC spokesperson said the group, who are currently studying on the BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Applied Science at SERC’s Lisburn Campus, are all past pupils of St Patrick’s Academy, Lisburn. Johnny McQuillan (Glenavy), Paul French (Lisburn) and Martin McKeown (Moira) have designed and prototyped a low-cost, low-tech solution to the problem of water contaminated by nitrates and phosphates.
Their solution is a physical and chemical filter which removes 90% of nitrates from polluted water and a high level of phosphates. The by-product of the chemical reaction, calcium nitrate, can be used as a fertiliser for soil.
The Eco-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards is an all-Ireland programme which recognises and rewards young people who raise environmental awareness and improve the environment. The team are up for two awards including the People’s Choice Award decided by public vote.
The young men have been working remotely on their studies for their Applied Science course whilst preparing for the Catalyst Inc Invent Programme 2020 and have made it through to the semi-finals following a successful group pitch by live video to a panel of judges from education and industry followed by a question and answer session.
Paul, Johnny and Martin said: “We have all worked tremendously hard to progress through to the semi-finals of Invent 2020. We plan to put even more effort and hard work into the next phase.
“And we would be thrilled to reach the finals of this prestigious event which would be a reflection on, not only our work, but the help, support and encouragement we have received during this difficult time. We would like to thank everyone for their continuous support.”
Michael Homes, SERC Science Lecturer and Project Mentor said: “Paul, Johnny and Martin are setting a fine example of what can be achieved even during lockdown.
“They have been working tirelessly on developing their ideas and still completing their assignments for their qualifications. It is great that this dedication is being recognised with their achievements.
“It is a massive boost for everyone at SERC to hear about their success to date including reaching the finals and semi-finals of such prestigious competitions.”
Winners of Invent 2020 receive a share of a £33,000 prize fund to accelerate development of their inventions, and all competitors have the opportunity to gain high profile exposure, validate their ideas and access a quality network of influencers.
Judging will be done remotely by the team at Catalyst and winners will be announced in October 2020.