The 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) in Helsinki

Sometimes even the rich English language does not provide enough vocabulary. Esteemed representatives of renowned institutions used in their speeches words such as “bright”, “talented”, and “enthusiastic” tirelessly. However, these are insufficient words to describe the the young scientists presenting their work at the European Union Contest for Young Scientist”, EUCYS for short.

The perseverance and seriousness with which these 16 to 20 year old students pursue their projects is astonishing.This generation of highly motivated young researchers has no shyness, no hesitation to travel 1,000 miles or more from their home city to present their project in a foreign language. Morten Lennholm, a scientist at JET attended EUCYS to deliver a talk about the science in JET. He had the chance to visit many stands. He was extremely impressed “I was thinking back, when I was their age, I would not have had the initiative and the motivation to do the job they have done”.

EUCYS has a long history. Initiated in 1968, it was reborn in 1989 when the European Commission donated the first cash prizes under its patronage. Over the years more and more organisations have shown interest in encouraging the next generation and donated prizes. Since 2000 the EIROforum members offer a week’s stay in their organisation. More recently industry have been realising the great opportunity this camp of brilliant brains presents for picking out potential employees.

The prizes awarded by the EIROs are an invaluable opportunity for the promising students to meet ‘real’ scientists, to give a presentation on their project and, importantly, to start networking.

JET is pleased to welcome this year’s prize winner, Azza Faiad, from Egypt. The 16 year-old impressed the jury with her project named: “Production of hydrocarbon fuel by catalytic cracking of high density polyethylene wastes”. Azza investigated the potential use of waste plastics as a fuel source, testing a variety of catalytic converters.

The award ceremony took place at Helsinki University festival hall, a marvellous Empire style building. After the prizes were handed out, one could see the relief on all the faces, and the disappointment on those who hadn’t won a prize. However, it was a pleasure to exchange information with the next generation of researchers. And it somehow comforting that these clever scientists turned back into young people, laughing and flirting, enjoying their scientific adventure, their life, the opposite sex and the prospects of their promising future.

Petra Nieckchen, EFDA