Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, stopped at UNB Tuesday afternoon as part of her first provincial tour on her first tour of Canada since being appointed last month.
The former chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency visited UNB’s Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBME) and was given a quick tour of the building before entering a roundtable discussion with various researchers from UNB and the community.
Andrew Sexton, a project engineer at the IBME, along with Shane McCullum, Research Associate at the Stan Cassidy Centre, and kinesiology grad student Alana Gullison demonstrated the exoskeleton, a rehabilitation device that teaches people how to walk again.
“From our side of that research, the ultimate goal is we want these devices to give people the most benefit in terms of how much function they regain…how to do that isn’t necessarily all known yet,” said Sexton.
Gullison said she found Her Excellency “humble” and she felt “pretty honoured” to be a part of the research and activity at the university that seemed to stand out to the Governor-General. According to UNB communications director Sonya Gilks, “it was all organized by their office, they reached out to us.”
Sexton was impressed with the insightful questions she asked during the tour, and her breakout from the areas of work typical of technically-trained professionals.
“To me, it’s that, here’s somebody that started out with an engineering background and now is doing something completely different…for us as engineers that’s big,” said Sexton.
Sexton explained how engineers don’t often have a lot of opportunities for broad exposure of their work.“[Payette] can affect a lot in this country if she so chooses,” he said.
UNB president Eddy Campbell was present to welcome Payette and participate in the roundtable that involved topics such as science, innovation and collaboration.
“We were honored and thrilled that Her Excellency chose to visit the University of New Brunswick on her first official provincial visit in her new role as Governor General of Canada,” Campbell said.
“As the province’s top research university, we were more than pleased to show her the innovative work our researchers are doing, and grateful for the opportunity to discuss how to enhance collaboration amongst scientists in academia, government and industry.”
Other stops on Payette’s provincial tour included meetings with the Lieutenant-Governor, the Premier of New Brunswick, an address to the Legislative Assembly and a visit to Gagetown’s 5th Canadian Division Support Base.
The day concluded with a reception at the newly renovated Beaverbrook Art Gallery, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.