Profile picture for user Michelle.Liu

Michelle Liu

  • Scholar 2022
Profile picture for user Michelle.Liu
Law and Civil Engineering
University of Ottawa

    Michelle Liu (they/them) is a Queer, non-binary, racialized, and neurodivergent engineer (P.Eng), soon-to-be lawyer, speaker, consultant, and researcher. Michelle earned their Honours BASc and MASc in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo and worked in design and construction management for various consulting engineering firms.

    Michelle’s encounters with racist, homophobic, ableist, and gender-based violence in engineering empowered them to pursue their law degree (JD ’23) and engineering PhD simultaneously at the University of Ottawa. Michelle’s engineering PhD research, for which they received both the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, uses sociolegal frameworks to understand the relationship between technological designs and the dominant norms in engineering such as masculinity and meritocracy. Michelle’s research objectives include to position engineering as a discipline capable of contributing to social justice. Michelle’s short-term goal is to become a professor of both law and engineering and to run a law practice that supports equity-seeking people who experience discrimination in STEM workplaces.

    Michelle’s service work in both the engineering and legal communities includes serving as a Councillor (board member) of Professional Engineers Ontario (the Ontario regulator of engineers), Chair of the Waterloo Recent Engineering Alumni Council, mentor with the Ontario Network for Women in Engineering, Co-Chair of the EDIA Task Force of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, and member of the Equity Advisory Group of the Law Society of Ontario. Michelle also co-created and co-funds the Liu-Kennington Award for the 2SLGBTQ+ Engineering Community, the first university-level scholarship for 2SLGBTQ+ engineering students in Canada. Engineers Canada named Michelle one of thirteen EDI Leaders in Engineering Workplaces in 2021-2022. In 2022, Michelle became the first openly Queer and non-binary person to be elected to the board of the Ontario regulator of engineers in the organization’s 101-year history. Michelle is the recipient of over 20 awards from various institutions for their leadership and community service.

    Across their research, leadership, and community service, Michelle’s focus is on using their lived experiences and subject matter expertise to contribute to social justice. Michelle has delivered over 160 keynotes, talks, workshops, and panel discussions at the intersection of EDI and STEM in the last decade. Michelle’s speaking content ranges from theoretical (e.g. critical race and intersectionality theories) to practical (e.g. types of workplace policies that could lead to concrete change). Michelle’s audience ranges from engineering deans and managers to junior engineers, technologists, technicians, and engineering students. Michelle also has extensive experience speaking to and engaging with K-12 students through their involvement with various engineering/STEM outreach programs.