Jessica Ayers earns prestigious IEEE awards for undergraduate achievement


(From left) Abdallah Shami, electrical and computer engineering professor, Jessica Ayers, fourth-year electrical and computer engineering student and O. Remus Tutunea-Fatan, professor and acting associate dean (undergraduate studies), Western Engineering. (Jacob Arts/Western Engineering)

Jessica Ayers, a fourth-year Electrical and Computer Engineering student, has been named one of this year’s 82 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society (PES) Scholars. 

Ayers was recognized for her strong scholastic achievements, distinctive volunteer and extracurricular commitments and devotion to advancing and exploring the power and energy field.  

The IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative provides funding and experiential learning for undergraduates who are interested in power and energy engineering careers. 

Additionally, Ayers was named the 2023 John W. Estey Outstanding PES Scholar Award for Region 7, placing her as the leading PES Scholar in Canada and a 2023 Anne-Marie Sahazizian Scholarship recipient. 

“This is an outstanding achievement as these are two very competitive awards,” says Western Engineering Dean Ken Coley. “This well-deserved recognition for Jessica reflects both the excellence of our undergraduate students as well as the strength of our power and energy teaching.” 

This marks the second time a Western Engineering student has earned both of these honours, with Jacqueline Le Feuvre receiving both awards in 2022. 

We caught up with Ayers to learn more about her passion for power and energy engineering and get advice for the next generation of Western engineers. 

Tell us what it means to have received these two incredible awards recognizing your undergraduate work.

It is always gratifying to be recognized for the hard work we do in school. These awards, in particular, mean a lot to me because they come from such an important organization in engineering, IEEE, and they acknowledge students in my area of interest, power systems. 

Why do you want to be an electrical engineer?

I have always been interested in power systems, even as a kid. I remember being curious as to how the electricity got to our house and what kept the lights on. I don't think there's ever been a bad time to become an electrical engineer since the early 20th century. There are always exciting opportunities to pursue and important services to be performed. 

Tell us about some of the challenges within power systems that you hope to address in your studies and later in your career.

There are so many facets of power systems in which I would be happy to work. I became interested in power systems protection during an internship and will take a course in this next term. There are also many challenges in power systems due to the current climate crisis. I am interested in working with an organization facing these challenges, such as implementing additional renewables and storage onto the grid. 

What advice do you have for prospective students considering Western Engineering for power and energy engineering? 

Try your best and take every opportunity to learn, such as tutorials or office hours with professors. Everyone is different, but for me, it has been very important to cultivate a rich life outside of class. It has helped me keep my perspective when it feels like school is overwhelming. So, I encourage prospective students to take advantage of the many opportunities that Western and London offer to build community.