Research engineer Henry Toal strives for a sustainable Alaska

September 21, 2023
By Yuri Bult-Ito

Henry Toal
Photo by Amanda Byrd/ACEP
Henry Toal is a research engineer at ACEP.

Henry Toal has recently assumed the role of research engineer with the Solar Technologies program at ACEP.

While a mechanical engineering student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Toal completed an internship in 2019 with the Solar Technologies program under the guidance of Michelle Wilber. His internship went beyond that summer as he continued to work through his undergraduate studies. Toal helped design and build data loggers for rural powerhouses in Alaska, conducted a solar pre-feasibility study on all of the UAA campus buildings, researched quality control methods for meteorological data, and helped with instrumentation installations in Fairbanks, Kotzebue, and Yakutat.

During his master’s studies in mechanical engineering at UAA, Toal focused on predictions of changes in solar power production by using solar light sensors around the Kotzebue community solar array to detect cloud movements. In addition to designing, constructing and deploying the solar light sensors and implementing machine learning models to process the sensor data and generate forecasts, his work involved negotiating a land use agreement with the Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation. The preliminary data analysis for this work appears in the paper that Toal co-authored, published in the 2023 IEEE 24th International Conference on Information Reuse and Integration for Data Science (IRI).

Henry Toal works on a remote solar irradiance sensor in Kotzebue.
Photo by Chris Pike/ACEP
Henry Toal works on a remote solar irradiance sensor in Kotzebue that he designed and built as part of his master’s degree thesis.

The Solar Technologies team commended Toal for his quick learning, exceptional dedication, and passion for his work.

Toal is “an accomplished data scientist, is always available to analyze large data sets and turn them into meaningful information that can be used to simplify complex ideas,” said Chris Pike, ACEP’s Solar Technologies program lead.

“He is an integral part of our team. We are so excited to have him come on board,” he said.

A home-grown Alaskan, Toal is dedicated to improving and making Alaska a more sustainable place.

In his free time, Toal enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing the board game Dungeons and Dragons with his friends.