Cairns-based Technology Innovation Engineer Stephen Sproul, 30, is the recipient of the prestigious E.S Cornwall Memorial Scholarship which enables Queensland engineering graduates to gain experience abroad in the electricity industry.

Utilising Ergon Energy’s flexible work options, Stephen is taking a year of leave without pay to work for industry leaders in both Europe and the United States as part of the scholarship.

Stephen is excited at the once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity to learn aspects of smart grids in a different environment and from different perspectives.

“Technology is moving very fast and to get that visibility of progression in other countries will be very important for the work we do here in Queensland,” he said.

“I have received tremendous support and flexibility from my managers and my colleagues, from when I expressed interest to apply for the scholarship right up to getting the paperwork signed to head off.”

No stranger to the leading edge of the electricity industry, Stephen already has some impressive projects under his belt since graduating from James Cook University in North Queensland and joining Ergon Energy in 2010.

Stephen Sproul, E.S Cornwall Memorial Scholarship winner

Stephen has been closely involved with large and small scale low voltage statcom research and development (equipment that can help stabilise voltages on electricity networks and enable connection of more rooftop solar) and was part of the team that brought Ergon’s successful Grid Utility Support System (GUSS) from concept to a working, deployable network solution.

“I also worked on a version of the GUSS platform called “REGUSS” – the Renewable Energy Grid Utility Support System – and that has taught us a lot about using battery energy storage to integrate solar PV into electricity grids, as well as establish the operating algorithm seen in our now deployed GUSS solution,” Stephen said.

Not a bad effort for a relatively short period so far in his professional career.

Throughout the process of this work and more recently aiming for the scholarship, Stephen said there was no substitute for hard work, communication and a clear focus.

“Work hard to get opportunities and work for mutually beneficial outcomes for the business and yourself,” is Stephen’s advice to others venturing into his field.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to live, learn and work overseas and look forward to soaking up the cultural and culinary experiences too.”