The future looks bright for third-year engineering student Curtis Dewasha, and his undergraduate experience in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s has proved just as promising.

In addition to successful coursework, Dewasha is undoubtedly ready and primed for success thanks to the camaraderie of a supportive Indigenous student community, and the benefits of a variety of extracurricular activities.

“One of the reasons I chose mining is because it's a very hands-on form of engineering,” says Dewasha, who is also a member of the Mining Engineering hockey team. “I've tailored myself more toward underground mining, and I’m interested in it because there are lower emissions, the machinery is smaller, and you're not moving as much waste.”

“I also think that there are some interesting challenges that arise from being underground that you don’t get above ground,” he says. “Like having access to all necessary utilities is likely the hardest one, with ventilation tubing being added constantly to keep air circulation, and ground support to provide a safe workspace.”

Another aspect that attracts Dewasha to the field are the areas within Canada where the jobs reside. “I like being up north. I grew up in Muskoka, Ontario, and I knew I'd probably want to live even more north than that. There are a lot of opportunities in mining there.” When it comes to his region of choice to launch his career, he is emphatic. “The Yukon. If I can fly in and out of either the Yukon or the Northwest Territories, I would love to.”




Dewasha chose Queen’s to pursue his engineering degree because the faculty was well aligned with his long-term goals. “I didn't actually plan on being accepted to Queen’s, and it was a very pleasant surprise when I did,” he says. “If I want to pursue graduate studies, I figure it would give me a better base of math and science to help me move to the next level. Also, because of how large the school is, it provides great services for students.”

One of these unique services that Dewasha has appreciated during his time at Queen’s is the Indigenous Futures in Engineering (InEng) group, which provides supports for Indigenous students in Engineering. Dewasha, a member of the Wahta Mohawks First Nation, recently became a student representative member of its Circle of Advisors. He describes InEng as “a small family because there are 10 to 20 people you always see at the gatherings, and you get to know them well. They're always smiling. I go to the meals there, which are put on every week or two.”

InEng also participates in the annual First Nations Launch National Rocket Competition in which Dewasha was an integral part of the team. The challenge provides Indigenous students in the United States and Canada an opportunity to compete in the design, build, and launch of rockets. The Queen’s team travelled to Wisconsin to compete this past April, and recently learned that, based on points scoring, the team won overall, all categories.

“It was a ton of fun,” he says. “We worked on the project a lot throughout the year.” The friendships built through teamwork made it even more notable since the rocket took nearly five months to build.”

To balance his demanding school schedule, Dewasha is an Infanteer with the Canadian Armed Forces once a week and plays regular hockey games and tournaments with his regiment. Although he describes both his Queen’s student life and the infantry as requiring “hard work and perseverance,” when it comes to the infantry, he explains, “Sometimes it's nice to take my mind off engineering because it's not like thinking about mathematics or anything like that.”

“When I'm there, I'm just having fun.”





This article is relevant to the following Strategic Actions as defined in the Strategic Plan:

sa-7-3   sa-8-1   sa-8-3