By Tracey Skehan
“My family has a long history of engineers, including my father, and with my love of science and math, it made sense for me to become an engineer too,” Avery Williams says.
“Having just graduated, it’s really cool to see your work come to life,” she says, “to be able to draw something two-dimensional and transform it into something three-dimensional.”
In high school, Avery took drafting, machine shop, and wood shop—classes that gave her the opportunity to make things ranging from firepit rings to a snowboard rack for her sister.
Avery’s woodshop teacher recognized her talent and encouraged her to apply to the Lakehead-Georgian program, which allows students to earn both a degree and a diploma. It was a bonus that as an Orillia native, Avery wouldn’t have to leave her hometown to go to university. And as she immersed herself in the study of electrical engineering, she began to see the possibilities it offered.
“A lot of people think we’re glorified electricians, but it’s much more than that. Electrical engineering encompasses communications, power distribution, and the development and design of processors and microchips.”
While at Lakehead-Georgian, Avery made time to be part of the campus outside of the classroom. She had a summer job as a communications assistant with Lakehead’s External Relations department and she was a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court—her athletic prowess won her the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award in women’s basketball.
Today, Avery is well settled into her job as an electrical designer with Innovative Automation, a company committed to being “the first-choice provider of automation solutions to global leaders in manufacturing.”
“We specialize in automotive product development through the use of assembly lines, and we’re the creators of Robo Tape—a system that applies different materials in strips,” Avery says.
Her team oversees the electrical requirements of the assembly lines developed by the company’s mechanical team. This includes the implementation of sensors and safety components such as light curtains.
“Light curtains keep operators safe—it’s an emergency stop that’s triggered when an operator enters an unsafe zone, for example, accidentally putting their hand where it could be injured.”
Avery started with Innovative Automation while still a student, and during the summer of 2021 she worked alongside their lead electrical designers fabricating headlights for Ford F150 trucks.
“We built the lights from start to finish with robot and human operators.”
Next on the horizon for Avery is attaining her professional engineer’s licence, a process that takes four years. In the long term, she envisions working in the green energy field.
“I’d love to harness energy that’s less damaging to the environment. Where we harvest energy is key, for instance, the heat and winds of the deserts make them ideal places for solar and wind energy production.”
Originally published in the Fall 2022 edition of Lakehead University’s alumni magazine, Journey.