Engineering Now .: Volume 4 - Edition 6 .: March 2008

2008 Distinguished Lecture series - Laura Formusa
President and Chief Executive, Hydro One, Inc.

Hydro One President and Chief Executive Officer Laura Formusa visited Western Engineering on March 20th, and she brought with her a message for the students: power systems as a discipline is entering a critical and exciting time, and Hydro One is the place to be if you want to be a part of it.

Seeking to strengthen their workforce for the future, Formusa explained to the lecture hall full of engineering staff, faculty and students why Hydro One seeks to establish and maintain good relationships with post-secondary institutions like Western.

“We want to be the best in North America. That’s the goal we’ve set for ourselves,” she said, referring to Hydro One’s status in areas like customer service, innovation and technology. “We come here (to Western) because you’ve got some of the best people, in the faculty and the students.”

Hydro One, which distributes power to 1.3 million customers across the province, has had connections with Western Engineering for some time. The corporation works collaboratively with some faculty members on research projects, and also provides some student support in the form of scholarships for 4th year students who choose the power systems option.

Formusa explained that the impending retirement boom expected to hit in the next 5 to 10 years is putting added pressure on companies to recruit young, qualified workers. She feels that Hydro One has recognized many of the challenges that will arise in the near future, and is moving to deal with those issues.

“We’ve got to work smarter, because we’re not going to have the pool of people we had before,” she said, adding that Hydro One faces as additional challenge because engineering education in power systems has fallen away over time. “The vast majority of engineering students in Ontario know virtually nothing about power systems,” she noted.

All the more reason for Hydro One to have a presence in universities, as well as colleges.

Formusa made it clear to the students in the audience that she recognizes that today’s young workers have different priorities than their parents may have had. She says she is confident that Hydro One is a place where those wants and needs will be accommodated. But she also didn’t want students to lose sight of the fact that power systems is entering into an unprecedented era, with new technologies and innovations leading the industry into uncharted waters.

Renewable energy and resources was one area she touched on. But despite some of the challenges that the industry may soon face, Formusa has a positive outlook.

“Renewables are going to be a major part of our future, and frankly, the system isn’t designed for it,” she said, before motioning towards the researchers and students in the crowd and adding, “I know you’ll find the solution.”

And if Formusa’s predictions are correct, there will be plenty of opportunity for young engineers to be a part of solving that puzzle.

“You are in the driver’s seat here,” she told the students. “The demand for your skills is going to be extremely high.”

Formusa earned her Bachelor of Laws degree at Osgoode Hall Law School and was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1980. She was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro One Inc., on November 23, 2007, having served as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro One Inc. (acting) since December 8, 2006.

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.: Becky Blue
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
Telephone: (519) 850-2917 Fax: (519) 661-3808