Erin hoping for ‘lift off’ with science project

A Limavady teenager whose science project has attracted the attention of NASA has secured a place on a summer internship she hopes will help her turn it into a business venture, writes Sheena Jackson.

Erin Bennett, a 17-year-old student at St Mary’s, Limavady, is developing a device which allows medical practitioners to continually monitor and evaluate the condition of an asthmatic patient.

St Marys Limavady pupil Erin Bennett with proud mum and tecaher Ann pictured with the silver medal won in Houston, Texas. INLV2315-453KDR

St Marys Limavady pupil Erin Bennett with proud mum and tecaher Ann pictured with the silver medal won in Houston, Texas. INLV2315-453KDR

The teen recently scooped silver in her category at the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project Olympiad in Houston, Texas. While there, Erin’s project caught the attention of an official from NASA.

“One of my judges works for NASA and he liked the idea.

“At the minute you can’t go to space if you have asthma, but he thought this project would be interesting,” said Erin. “It’s amazing to see how many people have been looking at the project, including medical doctors, and NASA. It’s surreal.”

Erin has secured a place in the Science Park’s Generation Innovation programme where she will have the opportunity to progress her own start-up business throughout July and August. She is one six teens awarded a £2,000 summer internship.

Erin said: “By analysing the breathing patterns of an asthmatic patient using graphical analysis, the medical professional will be able to advise the patient on how they can improve their breathing technique so that their medication may be absorbed sufficiently into their respiratory system.

“If the patients breathing technique is correct, the medical practitioner will know that the patient is taking their medication correctly.

“By using this methodology, medical professionals would be able to predict when a patient would get sick because their medication isn’t being absorbed correctly. I hope to make impact on the biomedical engineering field and secure a significant position and reputation within this speciality.”

Erin will pitch her idea to a panel of judges with the hope of securing an additional £10,000 prize and a year of mentoring to develop their business further.