SYDE Grad Student Spotlight: Naomi Paul

Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Naomi Paul


Hi all! My name is Naomi Paul and I have just begun my MASc in Systems Design Engineering (SYDE), focusing on Human Factors and Ergonomics!

I am a part of the Métis Nation of Ontario, with my family originating from the Georgian Bay region. Outside of school I am a very creative person; I enjoy playing piano, beadwork, wood burning, and baking! Within school, I am dedicated to my education, dreaming of completing my Masters, followed by a PhD, all on my path to becoming a professor.

What does it mean to you to be an Indigenous engineer? 

The number of professional engineers who identify as Indigenous is extremely low, one recent report showed that merely 0.73% of professional engineers are Indigenous, despite Indigenous Peoples comprising 4.9% of Canada’s population. Additionally, those engineers who did identify as Indigenous, on average, had a lower level of education than their non-Indigenous counterparts. With all this knowledge, I am proud to call myself an Indigenous Engineer. My role allows me to bring a different perspective to the table that would otherwise likely be missing. My education allows me to be another voice and show that we do belong in the field. But most importantly, I am proud to call myself an Indigenous Engineer because I am proud of my heritage, proud of what I am doing, proud of my decision to follow my dreams and pursue this career, all despite never having seen anyone like myself in this space while I was growing up.

What is your favourite Waterloo Engineering memory? 

The most memorable moment I’ve had throughout my time at Waterloo thus far might be my graduation celebrations this past April, which includes Grad Ball and my class Black Tie event, both which celebrated the completion of my undergraduate degree, also in Systems Design Engineering. This is one of my favourite memories for two key reasons. First, I am proud of my accomplishment, all the hard work I put in and the success I had in my undergraduate career. Second, after nearly 2 years of online school due to COVID, it was great to reconnect with my classmates and come together once again for a celebration of our achievements.

In the coming years, what role would you like to see your university or workplace(s) play in educating others about Indigenous Peoples?

I am excited and hopeful about the recent work that UW has been accomplishing towards the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. The Office of Indigenous Relations has started to offer amazing opportunities for education that focus on sharing the story of Indigenous People’s in Canada, celebrating our cultures and fostering a sense of community and understanding between all students. The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre is also very welcoming, and has recently become one of my favourite spaces on campus due to the comforting environment they’ve created and how friendly everyone is, both students and staff. In the future, I want to see these services thrive, to continue offering places that comfort Waterloo’s Indigenous students, supporting them in facing challenges unique to their situation, and continuing to expand the educational opportunities that are offered to all students, hopefully with high levels of participation.