Former carpenter chips in sound advice

    Miguel Ponce De Leon and Dave Ryan

    MY ADVICE to anyone stuck in a rut or needing a new challenge is to go for it. It’s never too late.

    The words of wisdom come from a former carpenter who 10 years ago didn’t even know how to insert a USB stick into a computer.

    Today he is playing a lead role in two global smart grid projects.

    The projects are securing and safeguarding our electricity supply for a future beyond 5G which will have a far greater renewable energy input.

    Father of two, Dave Ryan, said he had two choices when the downturn hit

    He could upskill and get computer literate or head abroad as several former site colleagues did.

    The roofer signed up for an introductory IT programme at WIT and found he had a natural flair for software development and technical writing.

    He’s now working on the exciting, global Reserve and Sogno projects which include input from the ESB.

    The 40 year-old is scaling very different heights in his work with like-minded experts from industry and academia around the world on the H2020 funded projects from his base at the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) which has hubs at WIT and our own St Kieran’s College.

    Sogno will provide next generation, data-driven, remote monitoring of electrical power for energy suppliers.

    Reserve focuses on integrating renewables such as wind, solar and biomass as power sources for the future grid network.

    And because security and stability of electricity supply is a key world-wide priority, both cutting-edge projects are fascinating, challenging and rewarding, Dave says.

    “Carpentry requires a lot of mathematical skill and calculation. I really loved my job. I found out very quickly when I went to upskill that I loved coding.

    “I did an Information Technology programme, then Software Systems Development. I began developing android apps and later worked on a Safer Cycling project and the Aquasmart initiative.

    “Instead of working on sites in all weathers, I’ve totally reinvented myself. I’m developing software, doing lots of technical writing and travelling for meetings with  project partners around the world.

    “Places like TSSG in Waterford and in Kilkenny allow you to follow your path. We’ve all the necessary expertise under one roof here.

    “You have to approach the right people. It’s like my tool box of old – all the pieces are there but you have to rummage.”

    Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, TSSG’s Director of Research, told The Reporter:

    “TSSG offers great opportunities for people interested in working in a unique research organisation.

    “Whether you are a student, postdoc or engineer, we encourage a culture that promotes autonomy and the pursuit of individual research interests and ideas. Dave’s journey through TSSG is a clear example of that.”

    Project leader, Miguel Ponce De Leon, said for project teams to be effective, they need the practical, pragmatic input of people like Dave Ryan who have worked on the ground and have a natural passion for work.

    “Dave’s grounding is invaluable to us. Electricity is a very old business and Dave’s vision and experience really helps to ground us.

    “TSSG in Kilkenny and Waterford allows staff the flexibility to spread their wings, explore new technologies.

    “And as our project wins continue, there are always openings for people like Dave who want and need a new challenge.”