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Former carpenter and roofer scaling new heights with future grid projects

By 16th June 2018 No Comments

A FORMER carpenter, who 10 years ago, didn’t even know how to insert a USB stick into a computer, is now playing a lead role in two global smart grid projects which 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 and building work disappeared overnight – either upskill and get computer literate or head abroad as 15 of his 20 former site colleagues did.

The expert roofer signed up for an introductory IT program at Waterford Institute of Technology and found he’d 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 south Wexford man is now 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) at WIT.

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 program, then Software Systems Development. I began developing android apps and later worked on a Safer Cycling project and the Aquasmart initiative.

“So, 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 the project partners all over the world.  My advice to anyone stuck in a rut or needing a new challenge is to go for it. It’s never too late.

“Places like TSSG allow you to follow your path. We’ve all the necessary expertise under one roof here to do absolutely anything. You just have to approach the right people. It’s like my tool box of old – all the pieces are here but you have to go rummage.”

Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, TSSG’s Director of Research, said: “TSSG offers great opportunities for people interested in working in a unique research organisation within the higher education sector. 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 their work.

“Dave’s grounding is invaluable to us. Electricity is a very old business and Dave’s vision and experience from his past career really helps to ground us. TSSG allows its 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.”


SOGNO project has the ambitious goal of combining hardware, software and research activities to bring about autonomous electrical grid management.

SOGNO combines data analysis and visualisation tools, advanced sensors, advanced power measurement units and 5G based ICT in to the existing energy grid.  The result will be a solution that will provide fine grained visibility and control of both medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) power networks. This will ensure we have an electricity supply that will remain steady and secure – no matter what the weather or circumstance.


H2020 RESERVE supports the validation of new research concepts and policies using a pan-European real time simulation infrastructure and anchoring the approach in Ireland, across sectors in Europe and beyond.

TSSG is looking at the impact of having such a large number of voltage measurement points in converters at electric generation and storage units in a distribution grid network. The TSSG is also evaluating how software applications, that run over new 5G networks, can provide the necessary performance to ensure a cost-effective solution which allows scalability, ultra-low latency and very large capacity etc.

The TSSG will be carrying out performance tests on a pan-European real-time simulation, all of which will go some way to enabling 100% renewable power sources in our future grids

RESERVE and SOGNO Press Release