Governor General Award

About the Governor General’s Academic Medal

The Governor General’s Academic Medal was first awarded in 1873 by the Earl of Dufferin and has since become one of the most prestigious awards that a student in a Canadian educational institution can receive. The Governor General of Canada continues this tradition of encouraging scholarship across the nation and recognizing outstanding students.

Notable past recipients include prime ministers Kim Campbell and Pierre Trudeau, premiers Robert Bourassa, Tommy Douglas and Robert Stanfield, and author Gabrielle Roy. 

The Collegiate Bronze medal is awarded to the student who achieves the highest overall average upon graduation from a diploma level, post-secondary program.

2024 Governor General Award Recipient

Nathan Cloutier, Computer Engineering Technology ’24

Nathan Cloutier Governor General Award recipient

It took Nathan Cloutier more than a decade to follow his passion into computer programming and IT work, but the wait paid off. This June, the 33-year-old Computer Engineering Technology grad was named NAIT’s Governor General Award recipient for 2024.

Cloutier’s journey as a student started at university, where he studied science with an eye on entering medicine. But, alongside organic chemistry and other courses, he also made “a small dabble” in computer sciences, finding himself intrigued.

He also found himself without enough money to continue down either path at the time – a problem he solved by enrolling as an Electrician apprentice at NAIT (class of ’18). Cloutier enjoyed the field and steady employment but never lost his desire to better understand computers.

“I don't like not knowing about how things work,” says Cloutier. That was especially true of a device that “plays such a huge and integral part of my life.”

Once again, Cloutier turned to NAIT, drawn to it instead of university for the polytechnic’s emphasis on hands-on education.

“I appreciated their approach to teaching,” he says. “I felt like every bit of theory that you learn is cemented with practical learning.”

The prospect of winning awards never occurred to him. Cloutier only wanted to apply himself. Time in a trade, he says, taught him to be organized and manage time effectively. And he was driven by his passion for the field and a desire to make a career in it. 

“I wasn't expecting any accolades,” says Cloutier. “I was trying to get as much out of the program as I could, and I guess [the award] was a side benefit.”

Another benefit was a quick transition into industry. 

After Cloutier completed a co-op placement at Inter Pipeline (a partner in NAIT’s Plastic Research in Action initiative), the firm later hired him outright. Today, he's responsible for gathering data from the field and redistributing it to appropriate departments within the energy infrastructure company. Cloutier’s work contributes to safety, business development and, through additional IT activities, network security.

“It's a very busy job but also very rewarding.”

Cloutier’s path to realizing his passion was lengthy but he’s grateful for that, in part because he feels it gave him the maturity to fully appreciate all aspects of it – including ones he didn’t expect.

“I'm deeply honored by this award,” says Cloutier. “And I really appreciate the opportunities that NAIT has helped me achieve.

“My life has just been better in almost every aspect since having taken the program.”
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