Interview with 3 Female Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Students from NIlai University
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An interview with 3 young ladies pursuing their dream in the male dominated field of aircraft maintenance. Nency Philip Selvaraju, 21, Hemamalini P Murugan, 20 and Deenadayalini Retnam, 19 are taking the Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering at Nilai University.
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Why did you choose the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering programme?
Deenadayalini : My cousin brother is a qualified aircraft maintenance engineer. He took me to his workplace to see for myself what it is like. I found the work to be interesting and after speaking to the supervisors there, I was pretty sure a girl could manage as an aircraft maintenance engineer.
Nency : My first dream was to see the world and pursue a pilot’s license. But the high costs led me to the path of Nilai University’s Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. Though unable to be a pilot, I still wanted to work with airplanes.
This programme allows me to do so and carve a lucrative career in the aviation field. However, I have not completely given up on dreams of flying. I will apply for a scholarship to do the pilot’s licence after I completed this diploma. For now, I want to ace my EASA examinations and seek for a scholarship or financial assistance to allow me to do degree in the United Kingdom.
Hemamalini : I also dreamt of being a pilot, but my small stature did not meet the minimum requirements for trainee pilots. But now in this programme, my lecturers were quick to assure me that my small frame is going to be a great advantage as I can crawl into tight, confined spaces. Not everyone can do that, so I am hoping employers will also look at me as a unique aircraft maintenance engineer with special abilities.
What is your motivation to excel in this male-dominated programme and field?
Nency : I want to show that the girls can be just as good, if not better than the
guys. I have always been very comfortable working with tools as I grew up helping my dad in his workshop fixing tractors. My humble working class roots in the plantation estates has motivated me to do my very best as my parents are working extra jobs to help achieve my dream of becoming a fully licensed engineer. Even my relatives are helping out financially, so I have to work hard and not let them down. Everyone in my estate is very proud of me for trying to become an aircraft maintenance engineer.
Hemamalini : Although girls are still a minority in this field, that shouldn’t stop anyone with the inclination and the right attitude from applying. To the lecturers’ credit, they do not discriminate and always pick students for projects and class leaders based on their abilities.
Deenadayalini : Later when we continue to degree level, it allows graduates to apply for supervisory and managerial positions later on in their
careers. They will not necessarily be hangar-bound for the rest of their working lives, though if you love airplanes, that is not a bad thing. I believe even more parents will overcome their preconceived notions about girls in this field.
Though the ladies make up less than 1% of the total number of aircraft maintenance engineering students in Nilai University, the numbers are growing. Recently, a pathway to earn a BSc (Hons) in Aircraft Engineering from Kingston University, United Kingdom, is introduced by Nilai University. The Advanced Diploma in Aircraft Engineering is a one year top up programme being offered to students who have completed their Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering programme from Nilai U or EASA license holder in category B. This means the Advanced Diploma graduates will receive both an advanced diploma from Nilai U and a BSc (Hons) in Aircraft Engineering from Kingston University. If students successfully complete the programme with a second class honours, they can progress on to post-graduate studies in the UK.
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