Internet of things will require a new kind of tech graduate — Barry Downes, TSSG (video)

26 Aug 2015

TSSG CEO Barry Downes says the advent of the internet of things will require a fusion of coding, hardware and electrical engineering skills

The CEO of one of Ireland’s foremost internet and communications R&D hubs, TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology, Barry Downes, has said the advent of the internet of things will require a fusion of coding, hardware and electrical engineering skills.

Downes’ TSSG (Telecommunications Software and Systems Group) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), has struck upon a methodology for turning college research into spin-out success. Focused on everything from broadband to 4G and even 5G, it is one of Europe’s foremost research groups focused on the future of communications and how it impacts our world.

The most glaring example of this has been FeedHenry, which was acquired last year by Red Hat for €63.5m, and proves that you don’t need to be based in a bustling metropolis or Silicon Valley to make an impact on the technology world.

“TSSG at its core is a science-driven organisation very focused on the future of key areas like communications.

“With FeedHenry we saw a gap for enterprises long before enterprises would need to have an enterprise-grade platform to help with mobility. Our researchers built a sophisticated middleware platform that became the FeedHenry cloud.”

He said that TSSG is now laser-focused on a number of key areas, including smart agriculture, internet of things (IoT) and the emerging world of virtual reality.

Waterford’s TSSG is currently bidding to lead a €30m EU-wide pilot focused on how smart technologies and the IoT could transform Europe’s agricultural landscape.

As well as this, the TSSG has signed a memorandum of understanding with UCC’s Tyndall Institute to target €82m in EU funding to support 10 IoT start-ups.

On the virtual reality front, a promising young TSSG spinout called Immersive VR Education has developed a virtual reality experience that replicates the Apollo 11 moon landing and plans to have the game in shops in time for Christmas.

Downes said that the forward-looking TSSG is focused on bridging the gap between science and industry.

“Our people are scientists with an industry focus who have the ability to solve problems for industry.”

Software grads hard-wired for success in the internet of things

In the coming weeks, WIT will welcome the first students who have signed up for its computer science degree focused on the IoT opportunity.

The Bachelor of Science (Hons) in the Internet of Things will prepare graduates for the next wave of innovation in computing.

The degree programme will be led by Eamonn de Leastar, joint course leader of the programme.

The programme will explore the software and devices that are transforming the way we live, work and interact. Graduates will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to become a new type of software professional.

“We believe passionately about this and there is a great opportunity for Ireland to create lots of technology in this space,” Downes said.

He said that one of the challenges with IoT is it requires a broad scope of expertise ranging from coding to knowledge of microelectronics and electrical engineering.

“We want to create graduates who have that capability to solve internet of things problems end-to-end, whether it is through building a sensor, connecting it to the internet and building the software to connect it to other systems.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years