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UOttawa electrical engineering student shares education journey

University of Ottawa Electrical Engineer Zoya Abou-Jaish

Zoya Abou-Jaish is an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Ottawa. As a 4th-year student, Zoya had to choose one of the program’s five technical specializations: communications, systems, electronics, microwave and photonic, and power and sustainable energy. Zoya chose Systems Engineering and is looking forward to working in artificial intelligence, machine learning, or hardware design after graduation.

Zoya gave us a quick overview of the program and describes her journey so far.


Electrical Engineering offers a solid foundation in mathematics and physics. Students learn about electricity, circuit theory and electronics to design communication devices, power generators, solid-state circuits, microelectronic devices and computing devices. Fun fact: I started in Health Sciences at uOttawa before taking a semester break then switching to Civil Engineering and then Electrical Engineering. I’m currently in my fourth year, so most of my courses are geared towards systems engineering, my specialization. I’ve taken courses in robotics, control engineering, power systems engineering and in so many more interesting topics.

Why did you choose to pursue an engineering degree?

The simple answer is I really liked math in highschool and I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to do at the time. I saw that engineering was very logical and mostly math and physics related, so I decided on Civil Engineering. Then during my first year, I learned more about the different fields of engineering and decided to switch into Electrical Engineering instead.

What classes do you need to take in high school to prepare for engineering?

Engineering is a lot more work than most high school students anticipate, but it’s very manageable. In the first year, students start off with a heavy but simple workload. However, as students progress into upper years, the workload gets lighter but more complicated.

Prerequisites and other high school requirements include:

  • English 4U (ENG4U) or Français 4U
  • Advanced Functions 4U (MHF4U)
  • Calculus and Vectors 4U (MCV4U)
  • Biology 4U (SBI4U)
  • Chemistry 4U (SCH4U)
  • Physics 4U (SPH4C)

These prerequisites and their averages depend entirely on which program you choose to apply to.

What are your career goals and aspirations?

After I graduate, I’m hoping to gain some hands-on experience in the field of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and hardware design. I’m also looking into graduate studies in those fields.

Why did you choose the University of Ottawa?

I was coming from abroad and found that uOttawa was situated in the perfect city for me. It wasn’t too big or too small. I also found that uOttawa had amazing creative spaces that were available to all students but catered towards engineering students. They have the Makerspace with 3D printers and laser cutters, the Brunsfield Centre, with lathes and mills, and so much more.

What experience has been a highlight while attending uOttawa?

I really enjoyed my design courses during my time at uOttawa. I especially liked that we worked with real life clients to solve their problems.

What advice would you give to a young girl interested in engineering?

I would say if you’re interested in the engineering field and you really enjoy math, physics, and hands-on work then apply to the program that most interests you. Check the courses each program offers, and see if there’s something that really interests you in any of those programs. Find what you like and go for it.

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