From Turkey with a Travel Bursary: Selin’s Journey to Coolest Projects International

Selin Alara Ornek (age 11) travelled from Turkey to Dublin, Ireland in May 2018 with the help of a travel bursary to present her project at Coolest Projects International. Her project was called ‘IC4U – Robot Guide Dog for Blind People’ and was awarded first place in the Hardware category.


Why did you apply for a bursary and how did it feel when you found out your application was successful?

I first attended Coolest Projects in 2017. I saw loads of different projects and met ninjas from all over the world, I really enjoyed myself  and had lots of fun so I wanted to go again in 2018. I applied as its very costly to travel from Turkey so I was very happy that my application was successful.

How did you get ready for the Coolest Projects? Did you spend long preparing your project? How did you transport it to Dublin?

I worked very hard on my project every weekend I went to my Dojo and also spent the rest of the weekend working on my project. In total I worked every weekend for five whole months. I dismantled my guide dog robot IC4U first and packed it into three cases then I had to rebuild it in the hotel room in Dublin. 

11 year old Selin with her project: ‘IC4U – Robot Guide Dog for Blind People’

Did you know much about Ireland before coming? Did it live up to your expectations?

I had traveled to Ireland a couple of times before Coolest Projects so I was familiar with Dublin and Ireland but I was still very excited to travel there again. When the plane landed I was really excited and thought to myself “I am back in this lovely country again”.  

Tell us about some of your experiences in Ireland before and after the event? Did you get to travel much, did you have fun?

We arrived in Dublin a couple of days before the event so this time we decided to explore different areas such as Dun Laoghaire and Bray. I also got the chance to visit Google EMEA HQ. I had got in touch with them to ask them a question about my project and they invited me to visit their offices.

When the day of the conference came how did you feel? Tell us about your day.

IC4U all wrapped up to protect it from Irish rain!

The day of the conference I was so excited I got up really early. I made my final checks on ic4u and dressed him in his raincoat as I didn’t want him to get wet on the way to the venue. When we got there I set up my stand and put up my posters. Then lots of people came to visit my stand so I got to meet lots of new people and other ninjas.

I love talking and explaining my project to new people as its good to get new ideas. This year I didn’t get a lot of time to visit a lot of the stands as so many people visited my stand. However, I did get to meet Tayra in person, a ninja from Bulgaria who I had met via email and other ninjas from Italy and all different countries.   

How did it feel to present your project at Coolest Projects International? 

In the morning I was a little nervous about presenting my project but when the jury first visited my stand they were so friendly and easy to talk to that I really enjoyed presenting my project and telling them all about IC4U’s features. My biggest achievement at Coolest Projects was coming first in the Hardware category. 

Overall, what’s your favorite memory of Coolest Projects International 2018? Would you recommend others to travel to Coolest Projects International? 

My favorite memory of Coolest Projects International 2018 is the moment my projects name was announced as the winner. Also that people were very interested in my project and that I got some really good ideas that I am now adding to my second version IC4U-2. I would definitely recommend others to travel to Coolest Projects International as it is so much fun.  

Any final words of advice to those traveling to Coolest Projects this year?

Do not forget to bring your glue gun with you 🙂 

Selin presenting her project at Coolest Projects International 2018.

Get your free ticket to Coolest Projects International in Dublin on May 5, 2019