Q&A with ICHEC staff member Niall Moran

1. What did you do at ICHEC previously? 

I started working as a systems administrator for ICHEC in September 2005 after completing my undergraduate in Electronic and Computer engineering at NUIG. There were less than ten people at the centre then and a lot to do so I got to work on many things - compiling and configuring software, benchmarking computational codes, teaching courses, replacing failed cluster components, developing user management systems, supporting users' queries, working with Irish physicists at CERN to find a way to process LHC data on the centre's cluster, and collaborating with users to improve and optimise their codes to run more efficiently.


2. What have you been doing since?

I left ICHEC in 2007 to pursue a PhD in the department of mathematical physics at Maynooth university. During my PhD I developed and applied scale-able simulation codes to aide theoretical understanding of quantum systems relevant to quantum computation and emerging quantum technologies. I continued doing research in this field as a postdoc at ENS Paris and Maynooth University for a further four years. Since leaving ICHEC, I have also spent time working in a range interesting industry positions - researching and developing automotive computer vision algorithms for detecting pedestrians and other road users at Valeo Vision Systems, developing machine learning methods for the detection of cyber threats from network traffic at Corvil and developing machine learning solutions for automating revenue management decisions for high volume e-commerce platforms at Cartrawler.


3. Why have you come back?

I returned to ICHEC because I believe it to be the best place for me at this stage of my career. The centre is positioned between industry and academia and is active in a broad range of domains which align closely with my interests and experience. ICHEC also offers the freedom to work across projects, the potential to develop my own research through applying for grants, collaborating with industry partners and mentoring of students. The experience and expertise of the staff is also a major draw along with the open and friendly working environment.


 4. How have things changed at ICHEC since then? 

The biggest difference I see is in the mix of activities the centre is involved in. When I left, the centre only offered support and resources to academic users. Now the centre consults and collaborates with a broad range of national and international partners from government, academia and industry in a diverse range of domains. The number of staff has more than tripled and continues to grow and the infrastructure and facilities have kept pace. The coffee has really improved too!