Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazer: Alan Turpin

  • Name: Alan Turpin 

    Role: Senior Software Development Engineer, ESO.

    I am a Senior Software Development Engineer at ESO. I have had 10 years’ experience within software development working on projects entirely software related and with mechanical components. Previously I worked for Randox Laboratories and CEM Systems. I have experience in C++, Classic ASP but mostly I develop in .NET. I graduated from University of Ulster Coleraine in 2008 with a degree in Computing. I completed a PhD at University of Ulster Coleraine in 2012 titled “Automated Identification of Retinal Cones In Vivo”.   

    What does your typical day look like?

    These days I get up and grab a quick shower before logging on at my desk at home (hopefully getting back to the office soon). First, I check to see if there were any urgent issues raised overnight that need my attention. Following that I check my emails for any automated error alerting that occurred overnight. If any of these require immediate work, I spend my first portion of the day identifying the issue at hand and how to resolve it. I then decide if this needs an urgent hotfix or if it can wait until out next planned release. Finally, I get to begin work on whichever story or task I have assigned. I also have a daily stand up each morning with other members of my team.

    What are you currently working on?

    I am currently working on an application called Scheduling. This application covers everything related to staffing shifts for First Responders (Ambulance, Fire, etc…). This ensures that staff are scheduled to work at the correct times with the correct qualifications as well as ensuring a vehicle is ready and the appropriate equipment assigned. This requires methods of managing personnel, vehicles, and equipment. We also allow for the exporting of the hours employees worked to be sent to external payroll systems. This product has been built over 15 years and has many configuration options for our clients. We are in the process of updating the older parts of the system, migrating them from Classic ASP to .NET hosted in Azure.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    I have always wanted to help people. I am not gifted with steady hands so becoming a surgeon was out of the question. Once I left university, I joined Randox as it gave me the option to work on medical analyzers that would perform automated laboratory tests. This was a technically challenging task of going from writing code that only ran on a computer to once controlling mechanical components. After I moved on, I worked in the Access Control sector with CEM Systems. When I was ready to move on, I wanted to get back to helping our first responders and when I heard about ESO opening an office in Belfast I was sold. 

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    No, originally, I wanted to be an astronaut… then I went through a period where I wanted to be a dragon (still do really) but by the time I was 10 I had decided that computers were the way forward for me. I always enjoyed working with computers and my IT teacher at secondary school solidified my choice of career. I knew I wanted to go to university, get my degree and a PhD then venture out in the big wide world. 

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    Performing code reviews and reading the comments of my colleagues on my pull requests. I enjoy ensuring that the code is written in a clean and tidy approach using the latest coding standards. I also enjoy mentoring new starts. I also enjoy those eureka moments when you have been stuck on something for a while and finally solving it.

    What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry?

    As a developer there is nothing more important that being passionate about the code you are developing. Make sure you choose a company who not only provides the necessary benefits but also is in a market that you are enthusiastic about. I always believe that it is easier to train someone up in a topic they are passionate about than trying to get a component developer passionate about a subject matter they are not fond of. Also remember there are more areas in the software development life cycle, such as, Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) and DevOps. Now is the time to join this industry, there are lots of great companies out there looking for all sorts of qualified engineers.

    How do you see this technology impacting on our lives?

    ESO pride themselves on the ability to do analytics on medic data from the initial call to the emergency services right through to after patient care. It is right at the heart of ESO, it is even in our mission statement “Improving Community Health and Safety Through the Power of Data”.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    My parents bought me a Commodore 64 when I was 9 years old… I was hooked from then on. From there my Grandad and I were always problem solving and watching Countdown together and the two seemed to fit quite nicely.

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    I always enjoy reading about the complexities of creating fast processors. The recent breakthrough by IBM to create a 2nm chip is intriguing and I think it will change the processor market in the next few years once they manage to get over the hurdles regarding mass production.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    I could not live without my Surface Book... without it I would be lost.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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