Team

Dr. Alistair Quinn

Programme Manager
(South West College)

Alistair has built up significant experience within a number of engineering strands to include development work on hybrid vehicles and investigative research within the medical device sector.  With a passion for innovation, he has carried out substantial new product/process development work across a number of sectors, fostering collaboration between industry and academia.  Alistair joined South West College in 2017 and possesses a strong interest in Project Management, holding a number of qualifications in this regard to include a Level 5 Extended Diploma in Management & Leadership and PRINCE2.  He also holds an MEng (Hons) degree in Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering awarded by Queen’s University Belfast and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering awarded by Ulster University.

Dr. John Harrison

Research & Innovation Co-ordinator
(South West College)

John has extensive experience working directly with local industry in the field of innovation and technology development.  He is responsible for the co-ordination, management and delivery of research & development, mentoring and consultancy support in renewable and sustainable technologies within his role at South West College.  In his current role as the R&I Co-ordinator for the Northern Ireland region within Renewable Engine, John’s activities involve the development of working relationships with industry to identify and carry out relevant projects through the utilisation of skills held within the project team to assist product development, process improvement, improving resource efficiency and energy management.  John holds a PhD in Chemistry awarded by Queen’s University Belfast.

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Dr. Jillian Couto-Phoenix

Research & Innovation Co-ordinator
(University of Strathclyde)

Jill is a former academic with a multidisciplinary research track record that spans both medicine and environmental engineering.  Jill transitioned from the basic sciences into engineering because of a desire to address grand challenges in energy and the environment and wondered whether she could use cutting-edge biology to produce novel solutions.  Once in engineering, Jill worked on new strategies for scaling up processes in biotechnology for industrial bioenergy production.  Working at the interface between biology and large-scale engineering, Jill became acutely aware of how quickly a ‘valley of death’ can open up between research and application and was keen to explore novel solutions for this within the innovation space.  During her tenure, she is interested in exploring how new operation and project management tools, as well as, how design-led methodology can be leveraged to circumvent valleys of death within the Renewables sector.

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Dr. Ehiaze Ehimen

Research & Innovation Co-ordinator
(Institute of Technology Sligo)

Ehiaze is the R&I Co-ordinator for the Republic of Ireland region for the Renewable Engine project, based at IT Sligo. He has extensive research experience in the renewable energy generation, supply and integration domains, especially in the area of liquid and gaseous biofuels production from biomass. Previously, Ehiaze has worked as a Senior Research Co-ordinator at Future Analytics Consulting (Dublin) and also as Principal Investigator and as Task Lead on several EU/national energy related projects including the EU INTERREG IVA funded “Large Scale Bioenergy Lab” project and “Algae Innovation Centre” project. Ehiaze has an extensive publication history of peer reviewed academic journals and book chapters on energy generation, energy storage, energy systems modelling, heat integration, renewability assessments and bioenergy/biomass systems.

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Prof. Paul Blackwell

Principal Investigator
(University of Strathclyde)

Paul acts as the Director of Knowledge Exchange located within the Department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management, University of Strathclyde. He also sits as Chair of the Technical Board of the Advanced Forming Research Centre. Paul’s background consists of a mixture of industrial and commercial research with particular areas of expertise around metallurgy and manufacturing, having worked in both industrial (Doncasters Forgemasters, Mettis Aerospace) and commercial (QinetiQ) research as well as previously spending time in academia at the Interdisciplinary Research Centre in High Performance Materials at the University of Birmingham. Having joined the University of Strathclyde in 2010, his research interests focus on the interaction of materials processing conditions, microstructure and final properties.

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Dr. Peter Martin

Principal Investigator
(Queen’s University Belfast)

Peter is a Reader within the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. Acting as Director of the Polymer Processing Research Centre, he is heavily active within the Advanced Materials and Processing research cluster and the Intelligent Autonomous Manufacturing Systems research programme. Peter’s research interests include Polymer Materials & Polymer Processing and Process Modelling. He also heads up the Thermoforming Research Group at QUB.

Dr. John Bartlett

Principal Investigator
(Institute of Technology Sligo)

John is Head of Research at the Institute of Technology Sligo, and was also founding Director of the Centre for Sustainability and founder of the Contract Research Unit at the Institute. An environmental scientist, his work has included ecotoxicology, environmental impact assessment, waste management technology, renewable energy technology, public access to environmental information, decision making and justice, and public services innovation. He has acted as Principal Investigator on a number of large scale research programmes funded by HEA (PRTLI), EPA, EU (INTERREG), and other agencies. Current research includes support for businesses working in the areas of renewable energy and sustainable building technologies, and public service systems innovation in the health and environmental sectors. He has worked with a number of agencies to contribute to regional and national policy development in the Republic of Ireland in the areas of sustainability, public services and health innovation.

Prof. Suresh C. Pillai

Principal Investigator
(Institute of Technology Sligo)

Suresh obtained his PhD in the area of Nanotechnology from Trinity College Dublin and then performed his postdoctoral research at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA. Upon completion of this appointment he returned to Trinity College Dublin as a Research Fellow before joining CREST-DIT as a Senior Scientist in April 2004. He has joined IT Sligo in 2013 as a senior lecturer in nanotechnology and currently leads the Nanotechnology and Bio-Engineering Research Group. He is the recipient of ‘Boyle-Higgins Award-2019’ from the Institute of Chemistry Ireland. He is an elected fellow of the UK’s Royal Microscopical Society (FRMS) and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (FIMMM). He has also completed an executive MBA from Dublin City University, in 2009. Suresh is responsible for acquiring more than €5 million direct R&D funding. He has published several scientific articles in leading peer reviewed journals has contributed to several book chapters, has presented in more than a hundred international conferences and has delivered over a hundred international invited talks.

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Dr. Mahieddine Emziane

Knowledge Exchange Associate
(University of Strathclyde)

Dr. Emziane spent over 20 years working in the area of materials, devices and systems for solar energy technologies. Among the founding faculty, he joined Masdar Institute in 2007 from Oxford University, following which he spent one year as a visiting scholar at MIT, USA. Prior to that, Dr. Emziane held appointments at the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool and Durham, and as a Guest Scientist with Infineon Technologies in Germany. As an associate professor, he had the opportunity to supervise and graduate research students, attract research funding and collaborate on wide-ranging programmes. Dr. Emziane is co-owner of IP rights, contributed to the review of two published books, authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and technical reports, and delivered about 140 conference contributions, invited talks, keynotes, tutorials and short courses. He is a reviewer for 55 international journals and conferences and member of the scientific committees of 20 international conferences. He organised and/or chaired 40 sessions at international conferences, and consulted for several organisations. Dr. Emziane received, in France, his BSc. and MSc. in Physics, and his PhD in Materials Physics.

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Dr. Mark McCourt

Post-Doctoral Researcher
(Queen’s University Belfast)

Mark holds a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry, an MSc in Polymer Science & Engineering and a PhD in Polymer Science all from Queens University Belfast. Most recently working as a Rotational Moulding Process Engineer, Mark has been involved in commercial rotational moulding research and development projects for almost 10 years at QUB, carrying out projects for small, medium and multinational companies across the island of Ireland, UK, Europe, Asia and North America. He has authored some 25 journal papers and conference proceedings on all aspects of polymer processing and his particular area of expertise is in the research and development of new materials and processes relating to rotational moulding industry. Since early 2017, he has been working full-time on the cooling of rotational moulding parts with internal water. This study has resulted in the development of the Roto-cooler system.

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Dr. Vignesh Kumaravel

Post-Doctoral Researcher
(Institute of Technology Sligo)

Vignesh obtained his PhD in Chemistry from Madurai Kamaraj University, India, in 2013. He subsequently worked as a Research Professor at Yeungnam University, Republic of Korea, and as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in an industrial project at Universiti Sains Malaysia. He then joined Texas A&M University, Qatar, as an Assistant Research Scientist in October 2016, before joining Institute of Technology Sligo in 2018. He has published several research articles and acts as a guest editor for Catalysts Journal.

Dr. Ashlene Vennard

Post-Doctoral Researcher
(South West College)

Ashlene joined the Renewable Engine team in March 2019 and has a multidisciplinary background having spent time in both academia and industry.  Graduating from Ulster University with a BSc in Biomedical Engineering Ashlene also completed a placement year as a Medical Technical Officer in Craigavon Area Hospital.  Following this, due to an interest in and awareness of the problem of Hospital Acquired Infection, Ashlene continued her studies completing a PhD in the area of TiO2 photocatalytic self-disinfecting surfaces, gaining knowledge in analytical techniques and materials science.  Prior to joining Renewable Engine, Ashlene spent the previous 3.5 years working in a research/industry collaboration within the MLCC field and played a key interfacing role between the R&D group and the manufacturing, processing and materials departments within the production plant.  Presently, Ashlene is undertaking materials based research and plays a role in the supervision of the SWC PhD students.

Mansoureh Khaljani

PhD Researcher
(South West College)

Mansoureh joined South West College in February 2018 to take up the post of PhD Researcher for the Renewable Engine programme, currently conducting research within the field of Compressed Air Energy Storage. Mansoureh has a background in Mechanical Engineering and previously worked at a pump and turbine manufacturer in Tabriz, Iran, where she was responsible for centrifugal pump designs. Mansoureh completed her Master’s degree in Energy Engineering at Sahand University of Technology, involving focus on waste heat recovery, fuel cells and anaerobic digestion power plants. Prior to this Mansoureh received a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Urmia, Iran.

Zara Shiels

PhD Researcher
(South West College)

Zara joined South West College in February 2019 to begin her PhD, focusing on the development of catalysts for conversion of CO2 to fuel, thereby resulting in a sustainable production route.    Previously, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with Forensic Analysis at Queen’s University Belfast.   With a passion for STEM and outreach, Zara has also worked for a QUB spin-out company specialising in nanomaterials for gas storage.

Charlie Farrell

PhD Researcher
(South West College)

Charlie joined South West College in October 2017 to pursue the post of PhD Researcher for the Renewable Engine programme. With a Chemical Engineering background, he has active interests in the field of engineering, sustainability, IoT, computer hardware and design. Charlie has previously worked on multiple multi-disciplinary projects during his time as an undergraduate at Queen’s University Belfast, where he received his Master of Chemical Engineering degree prior to joining the Renewable Engine team. He is currently working on energy retrieval from waste material using the thermochemical conversion method of pyrolysis and holds research interests in areas such as biomass, thermal analysis and kinetics.

Maria Damaskou

PhD Researcher
(South West College)

Maria studied an MEng degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering with a focus on keeping track of energy, which led her to embrace the importance of renewable resources, sustainable investments and energy management. This interest was kindled further due to the specialisation she followed while progressing her studies in Sustainable Engineering (MSc). As a member of the Renewable Engine team, Maria is enjoying the opportunity to pursue further training in those fields by studying a PhD in techno-economic analysis and modelling of sustainable installations.

Fatin Abdalla

PhD Researcher
(University of Strathclyde)

Fatin completed her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Khartoum, Sudan. She gained practical experience as a service engineer, working with some of the world’s largest blue chip companies such as Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Infinity and GTR dealers in Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. She expanded her practical engineering skills by becoming a volunteer to work for the Practical Action Organization and has been involved in a number of environmental initiatives and charities in both Sudan and the UK. Fatin graduated with distinction from the University of Dundee with a Master’s degree in Renewable Energy and Environmental Modelling. Currently, Fatin is investigating the potential of storing energy affordably into solar thermal panels in order to open up this technology for space heating.

Marius-Liviu Balan

PhD Researcher
(University of Strathclyde)

Marius graduated with a distinction award in his MEng Electronic & Electrical Engineering degree.  As part of these studies, he was involved in two large-scale projects on neural networks and ultrasonic-based robotic systems.  As such, Marius gained experience and developed an interest in mathematical modelling and the optimisation processes that lie behind systems’ control design.  Proceeding onto his PhD research as a member of the Renewable Engine team, Marius now is pursuing the opportunity to investigate advanced control methods for heavy lift operations from floating vessels in the Offshore Wind sector.

Eleanor Smith

PhD Researcher
(University of Strathclyde)

Ellie graduated from the University of Warwick in 2017 with an MEng 1st class degree in Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering with Robotics, where she worked on undergraduate research projects relating to additive manufacture and composites, and vibration analysis. Upon graduation, she was selected as top performing student in her cohort. Ellie has also completed internships with Jaguar Land Rover working in the Cost Management team, and at Rolls-Royce plc working in the Business Improvement and Capability Acquisition teams within aerospace manufacturing. She is now undertaking a PhD on Industry 4.0 and Augmenting the Millennial Worker, exploring how augmented reality technologies can be used in the renewable energy industry.

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David Castellanos Alemán

PhD Researcher
(Queen’s University Belfast)

David is an Associate Member of IChemE with a BEng degree in Industrial Chemical Engineering from Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC). David’s current research is focused on developing novel polymer fibre composite structures for rotational moulding.

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Jitendra Seregar

PhD Researcher
(Queen’s University Belfast)

Prior to joining Renewable Engine in 2018, Jitendra was working with National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore, as a Project Scientist with his main responsibilities including; CFD analysis on aircraft, store release and FSI code development. He holds a Master’s degree with specialisation in Computational Mechanics from IIT Guwahati. Jitendra is focusing his PhD research on heat transfer phenomena in the rotational moulding manufacturing process with an emphasis on process optimisation. In his research, he will be investigating the optimal location of electrical heating elements on the mould, pressurising the mould and process optimisation parameters.

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Alex Pritchard

PhD Researcher
(Queen’s University Belfast)

Alex holds an MEng degree in Product Design Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast and is an Associate member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. His current research work is focused on attempting to optimise the rotational moulding process for large multi-layer foam structures.

Snehamol Mathew

PhD Researcher
(Institute of Technology Sligo)

Snehamol Mathew received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Master’s degree in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from Mahatma Gandhi University, India. For her Master’s project, she worked in University of British Columbia, Canada. Currently, her PhD research is investigating the fabrication of modified TiO2 nanomaterials for energy and environmental applications. Her work focuses on synthesis and characterisation of modified TiO2 nanomaterials for photocatalytic hydrogen production and antimicrobial coatings.

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Sean O’Connor

PhD Researcher
(Institute of Technology Sligo)

Sean joined the Renewable Engine project at Institute of Technology Sligo in November 2017. He is working with an industrial partner to develop a modular, cost-effective, small-scale anaerobic digestion system for the treatment of agriculture waste. His educational background includes an MBS in International Entrepreneurship Management from University of Limerick in 2017, which provided expertise in management and the commercialisation process. He also received an Honours degree in Sustainable Energy Engineering from Cork Institute of Technology in 2016, where he studied the fundamentals of engineering with specialist topics related to the renewable sector.

October27

PhD research dissemination continues at ICMAC event

The International Conference on Manufacturing of Advanced Composites (ICMAC) relaunched in October 2021. Renewable Engine student David Castellanos was invited to present, joining 50 other participants from the manufacturing industry and academic sector. The programme covered a range of hub projects and provided partners with the opportunity to highlight progress on their research to date, showcasing project outputs. … Continued

September27

Renewable Engine Student presents at pre-COP26 Researchers Event

Renewable Engine Student Charlie Farrell was invited to present recently at an Early Career Researchers (ECR) online event. Charlie joined over 70 delegates and speakers from institutions such as University of Cambridge, University of Manchester, London South Bank University, Cranfield University and University of Sheffield for the special event titled ‘Highlight Opportunities to Tackle COP26 … Continued


The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), with match funding provided by the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Republic of Ireland).
Interreg - Northern Ireland - Ireland - Scotland - European Regional Development Fund

Absolutely thrilled that the hard work of South West College and all the Renewable Engine team has been recognised! @greengowns @swccollege @SEUPB

Green Gown Awards@greengowns

Winner of the Research with Impact - Institution Award for a small institution is @swccollege @renewableeng

Huge congratulations!

https://bit.ly/3bWvmDg