Cameron Bishop

Artificial Intelligence and Real Smarts:Computer Engineer Cameron Bishop Studies AI and Languages

“My journey to get to where I am right now has been very nonlinear,” reflects Cameron Bishop. He lives in Kingston, Ontario and goes to Queen's University where he is working towards a Master of Applied Science in Computer Engineering and AI. A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, his family has ties to the Red River settlement. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, his family moved to Ontario when he was 16.

Deciding what he wanted to study was a challenge for Bishop. He thought he wanted to pursue medical school because of his interest in neuroscience but his interest in problem solving and working with his hands meant that engineering made a lot of sense for him. He picked Queens because of their general first year Engineering program that leaves things more open which was attractive given he hadn’t settled on a specific direction yet. The flexibility left space for him to explore and decide. 

The path he ultimately chose was computer engineering, something that interests him even if he doesn’t get to work with his hands as much. Bishop was invited to an accelerated Masters program which ended up being the best fit for him, though he has some concerns and reservations. 

Working on his master’s degree on a project basis, he’s building off the contribution of others. The project he’s working on works with Inuktitut and a dialect Cree and AI technologies to see if AI can translate the languages into English. The work is interesting and he finds the project is cool and full of potential, but he has some concerns about the field of AI from an ethical standpoint. The field is evolving rapidly and like many other researchers, Bishop finds it hard to keep up with the latest news and research that comes in as a constant stream of information. He also doesn’t speak Inuktitut or Cree himself. 

Leading up to his university experience, Bishop had two very different high school experiences. In Calgary, he was able to attend a charter school for gifted students where he had an exceptional experience that honoured his neurodiversity and academic talents. When he moved to Ontario, his educational options were a lot more lackluster. He went from a very diverse school to a much more homogenous learning environment and he experienced a great deal of culture shock in the process. The experience was unsatisfying but he graduated in the end. 

Moving away from where he considered home was hard in high school but it made things a bit easier in university. Bishop benefited from the Indigenous support networks at the university. Queens has a more general STEM Indigenous academics program and an Indigenous futures in Engineering program alongside their Indigenous student centre which made finding community and support a lot easier for him. His advice for students moving away from their home communities to go to school is “There are support networks. You’ve just got to find the right people and stick with them.” 

As much as his overall journey has been non-linear, so has his master’s research. Working through a number of projects before finally landing on this one, Bishop has had some ethical issues with the project around the need for it to support community and be community driven and to work with data in a way that was aligned with his values. Overcoming those internal barriers, he found a more ethically-aligned methodology that allowed him to move forward confidently. 

If he could give advice to his younger self it would be, “It's important to be able to be resilient, and adaptable, but at the same time know what works for you and know what doesn't, and be able to not be stuck in one place for too long, if it doesn't work with you.” He’s learned a lot of life lessons from the path he’s taken and has found every time things haven’t worked out has been an opportunity to learn 

The other message he would give his younger self would be, “make sure you have good support.” His Master’s supervisors have been very supportive and understanding on his journey. He describes them as guiding lights during a difficult time and very patient given how challenging his degree program has been. 

To keep his mental health in check has been a real challenge for Bishop given how isolating he’s found academia to be. He’s found he has to put in the effort to socialize and to separate his school from his life since he doesn’t have dedicated office space. Making sure he’s chatting and interacting with people as well as getting outside and eating well has been important for his wellness. Living near Lake Ontario and Breakwater Park and enjoying lakefront views has been helpful. “Being able to access nature, I find, it's very relaxing for me,” he affirms.

When it comes to inspiration, Bishop looks to people in his life like Melanie who works in the Indigenous STEM program on campus and who has an extensive network. He also had a chance to be part of the Queen's First Nations launch team, a NASA rocket competition co-led by Miranda Cherry, a Métis woman from BC who is studying aerospace engineering at MIT. Otherwise, Bishop draws inspiration from everything and everyone around him.  

"Passion is just such an important thing so try to cultivate and maintain that passion because it's something that really can take you far."

To inspire Indigenous youth, Bishop says, “Just to be true to yourself and to your values. It's going to be really difficult and it's going to be a struggle if your work isn't aligned with your ideals and who you are.. Just do what interests you. Stay excited, stay curious. Passion is just such an important thing so try to cultivate and maintain that passion because it's something that really can take you far.”

His journey to get to where he is has been very non-linear but Cameron Bishop is on his way. Exploring computer engineering and artificial intelligence, he’s making intelligent choices for himself, following his passions and his values in his work. Inspired by everything around him, he’s staying curious and looking for his next chance to learn and grow.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

  • 0:00 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit
  • 1:11 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  • 2:22 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
  • 3:33 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor

Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
  • Province/Territory
  • Date
    April 15, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

Similar Chats