The Illinois Innovation Prize, administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, is awarded on an annual basis to the most innovative students on campus. Three runners-up for the Illinois Innovation Prize each received $2,500 to further their work. Ajala’s research is focused on energy resource optimization technology (see research summary below). His passion for energy stems from his childhood in Nigeria where the lack of constant power supply creates major obstacles for homes and businesses. Owners have to purchase small, and often inadequate, diesel generators, battery-storage systems, solar photovoltaic systems, and other small-scale power generators to meet their electricity needs. Ajala’s innovation electrically connects homes and businesses within a small geographical area to create stand-alone power systems known as micro grids. The micro-grid concept is a common one, but his technology will allow systems is these areas to be interconnected and for home and business owners to share electricity from various sources.