Third-class students from Robertson National School, Ballintra, Co. Donegal, have been crowned national winners of Engineers Ireland’s STEPS Young Engineers Award for their Hydro-Electro Storm project, a solar and rain powered car which aims to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

Developed by the Robertson Eco-Roadsters, comprising of teammates Alex Murphy, Georgia Green and Will Crawford, the Hydro-Electro Storm operates using solar and hydraulic energy.  The innovative two-seater car was developed with the Irish climate in mind and comprises of a creative roof system to collect and funnel rainwater to a hydraulic pump and solar panels to absorb sunlight to help power the car.

Having developed a working prototype of futuristic car, the winning student team commented: “The STEPS Young Engineers Award competition encouraged us to dream big, be creative and help engineer solutions for our community and we are delighted to be crowned winners of this year’s competition.

“We wanted to create an environmentally friendly car for the Irish climate, and we are incredibly proud of our Hydro-Electro Storm prototype. Using Lego, a construction kit, lots of imagination and teamwork, it was amazing to see our idea on paper come to life as the hydraulic module and solar panel both worked effectively to power the car. We would like to thank our teacher Ms Patterson and local engineer Gerard McGranagahan who inspired and motivated us throughout the project.”

The Robertson National School students faced stiff competition from 428 schools from across Ireland who submitted almost 500 projects to this year’s STEPS Young Engineers Award, which is co-ordinated by Engineers Ireland's STEPS programme - funded by the Department of Education and industry leaders Arup, the EPA, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).  

The nationwide primary school competition encourages third- and fourth-class pupils and their teachers to explore the world of engineering by developing an engineering project that would help to improve their local community.

In addition to the winning team, students from Scoil Naomh Áine, Clondalkin, were announced as runners-up in the competition, with pupils from the school also receiving highly commended status alongside The Model School Kilkenny, Mary Mother of Hope Senior School, Castaheany and St. Christophers Primary School, Ballsbridge for their innovative designs.

Each project team was recognised today at a virtual awards ceremony on Engineers Ireland’s website and YouTube Channel, which also included an Engineering Spectacular show by Mark Langtry, Head of Science and Sport at Explorium.

Praising this year’s entrants to the STEPS Young Engineers Award, Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland, said: “I would like to congratulate all the third and fourth-class pupils, teachers and volunteers who participated in this year’s STEPS Young Engineers Award. We were so pleased to see such a high level of creative and innovative projects entered into this year’s competition. It is my hope that each student who participated in the STEPS Young Engineers Award thoroughly enjoyed this experience and that they will be encouraged to continue their exploration of the exciting world of engineering into the future.”

Additionally,  Ms Spillane applauded each of the volunteer engineers who visited schools to assist students with their projects: “We are incredibly grateful to our volunteer engineers who visited schools across Ireland to help students with their projects. I would also like to pay tribute to our volunteers from Arup, ESB, Intel, Kildare County Council and Tandem and who assisted with the judging process.”

For more information and to get involved in the STEPS Young Engineers Award, visit: