Shane Curran: Teen Tech Star
It’s hard being a teenager. Exam nightmares, hormones and dealing with parental angst. But it looks like 16-year-old Shane Curran is ahead of the curve.
This year started with a bang for the Terenure College Dublin student, when he won the much-coveted top prize at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. With data leaks and internet security at the top of the world’s mind in recent months, his encrypted data storage project seems more vital than ever.
For over 52 years, science teachers and students from all over Ireland have developed break-through ideas and projects in this hugely popular annual science and technology showcase. In 2012, the initiative expanded abroad with the launch of Young Scientists Tanzania, with further exhibitions in development across the globe.
Shane’s project – qCrypt – was inspired by the Boston College Project, where testimonies of people involved in Northern Ireland’s years of civil and political unrest were released before the participants had died.
qCrypt ensures data is safe by splitting sensitive data files into shards. Each shard is sent to a server in a different jurisdiction and the file can’t be rebuilt until a specific number of data shards are reunited. As the data shards are dispersed in several different places, it means the sensitive information is much less vulnerable to illegal access.
Heralded as a computer prodigy by Silicon Republic when he was just 11, Curran learned how to program in multiple languages before he had even reached secondary school.
A highly prestigious competition and a challenge to young Irish minds since 1965, the exhibition boasts many notable alumni from a variety of disciplines.
Patrick Collison, who took the top spot in 2005, is a billionaire after co-founding the software company Stripe with his brother John.
Winning first place in 2013, Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy Thow were named in Time magazine’s top 30 ‘Most Influential Teens’ list for their research on boosting agricultural production.
Kate and Annie Madden participated in the 2014 competition and now employs a staff of six at their company FenuHealth, which exports to racing camel owners in the Middle East.
Shane plans on making qCrypt available to the marketplace as soon as possible. With such determination and vision, the future of tech security might just be in his hands.