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New graduate hopes to inspire other Inuit to pursue engineering

February 27, 2024 — 

RJ Oolooyuk is from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and is graduating from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2024. RJ is the first Inuk student to graduate from the Price Faculty of Engineering. He is providing an exemplary example of passion and perseverance to help inspire other Inuit to complete an education in engineering.

What inspired you to pursue engineering at the University of Manitoba?

“I grew up using, fixing and tinkering with offroad vehicles, ATV’s, snowmobiles and so on. I enjoyed learning how engines, suspensions, and everything to do with them work, and how to modify or optimize them for the arctic, this is what led me into mechanical engineering. The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) did a recruitment presentation at my high school and that is how I became aware of that path into engineering.”

What do you plan on doing after you graduate? Do you envision leveraging your engineering education to make a positive impact within your community or beyond?

“I am moving back home after graduation and working with Parks Canada as a Technical Services Coordinator. Managing the construction, maintenance, repairs, renovations etc. of Parks Canada assets and equipment. I just hope that I can inspire other Inuit to pursue an engineering degree as well. I would happily and eagerly provide advice and support in any way I can to help them be successful, and hopefully return home as leaders of their community and in Nunavut.”

What was it like to work on your studies far from home? What sort of supports helped you along the way?

“Engineering is a very challenging degree and requires unwavering motivation and dedication to be successful. For me initially, moving away from my community, family and friends, I was too easily side tracked whenever family or friends came to Winnipeg. I had difficulty maintaining the level of dedication towards studies that was needed to be successful. The ENGAP program provided a home away from home and was the reason I was able to make it into engineering in the first place, and to ultimately complete it.”

Is there a particularly memorable project that you worked on during your studies?

“This would be my final engineering capstone project. I was lucky enough to be selected for the team who researched and redesigned the reed valve petal for Polaris Inc. for their snowmobile engines. A reed valve is an engine component used to control air flow into a 2-stroke engine. My love and interest for these kinds of things is what led me into mechanical engineering. Having this as one of the options for a final engineering design project, and being selected to be a part of it, couldn’t make me happier.”

Is there any advice that you would give to other Inuit wanting to pursue this degree?

“Stay extremely dedicated and motivated to do well and you can do it. Find and utilize all the resources available, such as a program like ENGAP which was a huge help in my education. They provided me with the academic upgrading I needed to make it into engineering and supported me throughout my years as a student. I know there are many more Inuit like me who enjoy tinkering with and understanding engines, suspensions and basically any mechanical system. I hope my completion of Mechanical Engineering will shed some light for Inuit towards engineering and show it is possible to achieve.”

 

The Price Faculty of Engineering congratulates RJ on his accomplishments, and wishes him the best in his future endeavors.

For more information about the Engineering Access Program, please visit their website. 

 

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