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Back to Press Releases 11 November 2021

Dublin City University team wins prestigious ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge 2021

  • Teams competed online to set out a vision and design for energy storage to achieve and sustain net-zero carbon emissions with renewable generation 
  • DCU will now represent Ireland at the leading international case competition ENGCOMM 2022 
  • Munster Technological University took the runner-up spot with University of Limerick in third place 

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Dublin City University students Oisín Ruane (Castlebar, Co Mayo), Aodhán O'Donoghue (Castlebar, Co Mayo), Cillian Byrnes (Castlebar, Co Mayo) and Odhrán Lang (Castleknock, Dublin), with their coach Dr Brian Corcoran, will represent Ireland at the international engineering and commerce competition, ENGCOMM 2022 after their team won this year’s ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge.

DCU pulled ahead in the grand final against stiff competition from Munster Technological University and University of Limerick to produce one of the tightest finals in the events eight-year history.

The teams were tasked to set out a vision and a specific design for an energy storage solution to help achieve net-zero carbon emissions, using the town of Athlone as a proof-of-concept location. The challenge constrained choices by excluding batteries and hydrogen. All teams rose to the challenge and proposed a range of ideas including compressed air, stacked block and flywheel technologies.

The winning team (pictured) were presented with the prestigious McLoughlin perpetual trophy at Dublin City University – in line with Covid-19 protocols. The team were coached by Dr Brian Corcoran, Head of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at DCU – who has coached a number of the university’s teams in previous ESB Inter-Colleges Challenges with this being the first time for them to take the first-place prize.

They will now represent Ireland at the international case competition, ENGCOMM 2022, which will take place in Montreal, Canada from 22nd to 26th February 2022, where they will compete against other universities from around the world.

ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge 2021 took place online for the second year running due to Covid-19, over the course of two days on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th November, as 32 students from 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. University College Dublin won the Best Innovation Award and Maynooth University took home the Best Commercial Solution (Marketing and Finance) at the event.

Following the event, Denis O’Leary, ESB’s Executive Director, Engineering and Major Projects, said: “The quality of the work undertaken by each of the teams in the competition really 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 this year as our event again took place online due to Covid-19. I was hugely impressed by the novel solutions to the implementation of large-scale energy storage that each team pitched to the expert panel. I would like to thank all teams for their participation and wish Dublin City University the very best of luck as they represent Ireland on the international stage at ENGCOMM 2022.”


For media queries contact: Graham King, ESB Press Office,, 085-1515886

Photo caption: Denis Kelly, Engineering Capability Manager at ESB, presents Dublin City University captain, Oisín Ruane with the prestigious McLoughlin perpetual trophy alongside teammates (left to right) Cillian Byrnes, Odhrán Lang, Aodhán O'Donoghue and their coach Dr Brian Corcoran after Dublin City University won this year’s ESB Inter-Colleges Challenge.

Notes to editor:

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 2022 with the winning team also receiving placements with the organisation. This year’s challenge was to set out a vision and a specific design for an energy storage solution to help achieve net-zero carbon emissions, using the town of Athlone as a proof-of-concept location. 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 2022, which will again take place virtually 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.