Welcome to Indigenous Futures in Engineering, Queen's University

Duncan Cree

Duncan Cree

Duncan Cree has some surprising advice for younger students. “Be prepared.  You might have to repeat a year.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t smart enough. Maybe your study skills just need some improvement.”

Duncan graduated from Concordia University in 1999 as a mechanical engineer.  He worked in a flight lab before returning to school to study materials.  

Duncan studied a material called ceramic for use in space travel.  He was the first Indigenous person in Canada to finish a PhD in mechanical engineering, so he is now known as Dr. Duncan Cree. He works at Queen’s University as a professor, teaching students about engineering.

In high school, Duncan wanted to be a car mechanic like his dad was.  One of his teachers encouraged him to go to college to study aircraft mechanics and from there he went to university.

“Some people think a higher education will change you and make you into a different person, or make you think like a non-Native,” he says. For Duncan this wasn’t the case. He gained confidence in himself.

Duncan has had many adventures since becoming an engineer. He went to China one summer to study at the International Space University, and he has also won an Indspire Award. He is proud of this award because it is given by Indigenous people.

He knows that school can be hard, especially if you are shy like he is, but you can make it if you are determined and focus on your goals. Duncan hopes more Indigenous youth choose to go to college and university, in order to use their training to help their communities.

When Dr. Cree is not working, he enjoys going home to Kanehsatake to fish and hunt. He also enjoys being a judge at the Annual Quebec Aboriginal Science and Engineering Association’s science fair.

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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