What first drew you to FORCE and to the tidal industry?
Before I started working at FORCE, most of my work was in wireless communications – nothing related to the tidal industry. But in 2017 I started my Masters, and that was mostly for underwater communications. I did a project for FORCE related to the RAP project and that was the first time I was introduced to FORCE, what they did, and what their goal was. I learned of the cost of deploying cabled platforms and monitoring underwater equipment, and how if we can develop something which reduces the industry cost, and can transfer data wirelessly underwater, that will reduce the cost of monitoring marine mammals and allow marine mammal detection in real time. That’s what really interested me and that was the first time I thought about joining FORCE.
What are you working on for the Risk Assessment Program?
During my Masters, FORCE wanted to deliver radar data from a remote site, Cape Sharp Lighthouse, back to the visitor centre. So I designed a wireless link using a repeater situated on the beach so the data can be transferred from the radar to this repeater site and from there back to the VC. And from the VC we have internet access, so we have access to the Halifax server and can transfer the data back to Halifax.
So, scoping out how to transfer data is one of the projects I’ve been working on with RAP, but then I’ve also been helping out with installations of the actual radars. A lot of times what happens is when you lose power you have to actually go to the sites physically to get the radar running again. There’s a safety feature where if the power goes out, the radar will stop transmitting and you have to go there to hit the transmit button. But we figured out a way to access them remotely and then you don’t actually lose a lot of travel time. I’ll also help manage the installation of the new radar tower in Grand Passage.
What would you say is your favourite part of working at FORCE so far?
I think that there’s a new challenge everyday. You get to solve problems, and then there’s the novel things that we’re trying to do here – detecting marine mammals and the localizations of marine mammals in real time through the cabled platform that I’m working on. So I feel that I get to do a lot of different things: it’s not just one project, and it’s not repetitive.
When we think about this industry of tidal power, it’s one thing to deploy a turbine and have it generate power – but all the work that goes on behind that, to monitor it, to get data from it, to make sure that it works properly and that there’s no safety hazard, to make sure it’s not hurting the environment, to make sure it’s not hurting the marine mammals around it, you know, there’s a lot of work behind it. It’s not about following steps and everything will work fine – it’s a new thing that you have to explore every day to make things work. It’s a lot of problem solving – and that’s one of the things I like about this job.
Are there any other thoughts that you’d like to share?
When I was doing my undergrad, back in 2010, I knew I wanted to do engineering but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that. But then, especially after doing the project with FORCE, the focus is on renewable power – green power. I think this is really helpful for us – not only for this generation, but for the coming generations. Moving away from coal and gas and fossil fuels will help the future generation, and, being part of FORCE, I have a sense of accomplishment that I’m doing something to help out – not just this generation, but for the coming generations as well.
Surinder received his Bachelor of Technology degree in Electronics and communication Engineering from the Punjab Technical University Jalandhar, India in 2010 and completed a post graduate diploma in Wireless Telecommunications from Humber College, Toronto in 2013. His industrial experience in telecommunications and two-way radio systems led him to join Dalhousie University, UW-STREAM lab as a Master of Science student in Electrical Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Jean-François Bousquet. His research interests lie in the fields of wireless communications, IoT security, underwater communication channels, and embedded system designs.
While completing his Masters in Underwater Communications in 2020, Surinder collaborated on a project with FORCE. He was drawn to the concept of tidal power and the opportunities the renewable energy sector provides to contribute towards clean energy for this and the future generations.
Surinder joined FORCE as a field engineer in June 2020 and has since been working on projects for the RAP program such as a wireless backhaul network for RADAR. He is also working on developing subsea cable platforms and a solar power system for RADAR with Dr. Joel Culina and signal processing & data analysis with Dr. Dan Hasselman.