Sven has been active in IT for over 25 years, of which a good 12 years at VITO. Over the years, he has carried out several IT roles. At VITO/EnergyVille, he works as a senior software engineer, although that term does not do justice to the range of activities he covers.

IT professionals are an important link in the success of research projects. In 'Make IT happen' we let our IT experts talk about their job at VITO.

A third interview for 'Make IT happen', with Sven Claessens. Before him, Arnout Standaert, IT expert at the VITO Data Science Hub, introduced himself and also Ramses Nys, full stack developer at VITO.

IT on the rise

An IT position within the research groups at VITO is not a standard IT position. In order to properly understand the needs and questions of the researchers and projects, it is important that you have a strong interest in the domain for which you develop innovative IT solutions. In my case, this is energy technology. However, you are not limited to your own domain, it is interesting to build up some affinity with VITO's other research domains as well. VITO encourages and supports this with numerous knowledge-sharing initiatives such as lunch talks and alignment meetings. In this way, you learn every day about topics that lie outside your IT expertise and you consequently gain more insight into the wide range of research topics. 

Of course, you always work together with researchers who are all experts in their field. It is therefore not the intention that you become an expert yourself, but rather to shape the technical side from an integral view of the research domain.

It is also important to keep abreast of new developments in the IT landscape. Not to jump on every new trend, but to develop a good vision of the technologies that are interesting for our work and to check where they can be applied. In other words, a broad view on IT. Luckily, for specialised questions and advice, we can call on our central IT department, IT people from other units and, if necessary, external specialists.

Many different projects

For the execution of our projects, we use infrastructure offered by central IT and see an evolution towards Cloud services, such as Azure, which we partly manage ourselves. We build and maintain data platforms to support research and as a source for algorithms, optimisations and modelling.

On the one hand, my role is to form a bridge to translate research solutions and concepts into a concrete IT solution that can be used for a Proof of Concept or a possible integration within the IT services of customers. On the other hand, I advise colleagues and partners on the valorisation and implementation of solutions as well as the improvement of software quality and processes.

Some concrete projects we are working on are: smart charging of electric vehicles, intelligent control of heat networks, grid analysis and improvement tools, energy market forecasting.

Making the world a better place

My week is only successful if, at the end of it, I feel that I have made a structural contribution to the sustainable transition and was able to complete something solid. This can be effective software implementation, advice, specifications and architecture definitions.

So although we support very diverse projects, they all have the same goal: to make the world a little better, and I like that idea. We are also starting to see the effects in society of the projects we have realised over the past 10 years. That gives a real boost.

Interested in an IT job at VITO?

Today, we have around 100 colleagues fulfilling a diverse range of IT roles across our business units and the central IT department. IT capabilities are of vital importance to our research projects. As part of a multidisciplinary project team, you will have responsibility for all IT aspects within our research projects.

Do you want to work as an IT professional at VITO? Scroll through our vacancies.