Reamonn Soto was destined to pursue a technology career since high school, when a knack for fixing computers earned him designation as the neighborhood’s resident information technology expert.
Fast forward to 2013 and Reamonn was running his first business, with a physics degree, U.S. Department of Energy internship, and eight years of Marine Corps experience under his belt. In partnership with a friend and co-founder, he had started an auto shop in North Florida poised to convert car engines to run on cleaner-burning compressed natural gas.
“After we successfully built up that business, I decided to transition ownership of the company to focus on something that I was really passionate about,” Reamonn said.
Reamonn returned to school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue a master’s degree in aviation and aeronautics. While conducting research at Embry-Riddle’s jet engine lab, he noticed turbine engines were continuing to fail due to overheating. Digging deeper, he discovered that temperatures in the hottest parts of turbines often went undetected simply because no sensors could withstand extreme heat.
The overheating of just one turbine engine could cost its owner dearly, resulting in almost $2 million in unscheduled maintenance and unplanned downtime of about 10 days. For a company relying on thousands of gas turbine engines such as Siemens, this equates to multimillion-dollar losses.
Reamonn was compelled to fix the problem. He and his wife, Azryana Soto, worked with the University of Central Florida and Florida State University to develop proprietary ceramic sensors to withstand extreme heat and transmit data wirelessly. Their technology was the first of its kind to enable monitoring of turbine engine conditions, resulting in money saved from extended maintenance intervals and prolonged life of the part.
The Sotos credit funding and research support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, StarterStudio Seed Fund, Embry-Riddle, the University of Central Florida and Florida State University for helping commercialize their technology and launch Sensatek in 2015. Reamonn is also quick to recognize the company’s strong team.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and I think it takes one to raise a company, too.”