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Naomi Williams, BEng Scty '14

Civil Engineering & Society | Clean Water for Communities

Naomi Williams’ path to “her dream job” began in high school, when volunteering with Engineers Without Borders helped her see engineering as a way to tackle important global issues.

That same perspective led the 2014 graduate to the Civil Engineering & Society program.

“From the outset, I was interested in the Society component - the idea of diversifying my education and breaking up technical courses with more electives was really appealing, as was the emphasis on understanding the societal impact of the work engineers do,” she says. “I opted for Civil, hoping that I would learn engineering skills that would be of benefit to any community and relevant in any cultural context.”

 For her final year Society Inquiry project, Williams opted to research the reasons why many First Nations lack access to drinking water.

“In investigating the complexities – not only technical but social, political and financial, my interest in the field really grew,” she says, “when I graduated I knew I wanted to work with drinking water, and ideally with First Nations.”

Today, Williams works with First Nations Engineering Services Ltd, located on the Six Nations reserve. She’s been involved with a number of Capital Planning Studies, helping communities determine and plan for their infrastructure needs, as well as Water Feasibility Studies to determine the most sustainable, cost-effective long-term solution to a community’s drinking water issues.

“I am grateful to have landed my dream job, working with an Aboriginal-owned engineering firm that is a leader in the industry, and has designed over 20 water treatment plants for First Nations in Canada,” she says.

Her advice for today’s students:  Don't settle for any engineering job - take time to consider where your skills and passions and the needs of society intersect, and be persistent in finding a role in that field.