Young aerospace engineer beats the odds

Women can do whatever they want such as becoming engineers, says Aruba, 23

Kashif Hussain June 21, 2021


Aruba Faridi, 23, a young ambitious woman from Karachi is the youngest female aerospace engineer in Pakistan - a title she earned by beating the barriers presented by both class and gender.

Aruba hails from Gulshan-e-Hadid and is the third among five siblings.

With both her father and brother affiliated with the field of engineering Aruba was naturally inclined towards the field. “Only tools and electronic devices amused me so I played with them instead of playing with dolls,” says Aruba recalling her childhood days.

At a young age she would help her father repair home appliances. And soon, fixing machines became her hobby. Once she accompanied her father to their house, which at the time, was under-construction and meddled with the wirings and switchboards that bulged out from the walls, recalls Aruba fondly.

However, aeroplanes still fascinated her the most and her curiosity led her to opt for aerospace engineering. Right after completing her intermediate education, Aruba joined a private company - Hawk Aviation Services.

Breaking barriers

Aruba says that the most difficult part of pursuing a career in her preferred field was the lack of financial resources. Her father was employed at Pakistan Steel Mills and their resources always limited. To get certified as an aeroplane engineer, Aruba had to sit through exams conducted by a German and British institution. Each of the 17 modules cost Rs25,000-30,000 per paper, an amount that had to be paid in Euros. The family’s financial constraints forced her to consider giving up her dream job.

“However, my father encouraged me to keep going no matter the obstacles,” recalled Aruba, speaking to The Express Tribune. “He suggested I continue the practical work instead of giving up and clear the exams later whenever possible.” Joining the Hawks International in 2014 would have made her a certified engineer within one-and-a-half year but her financial situation prolonged this to over five years. She was able to become a certified engineer in 2019 after working for the institution and making enough money to clear her fees.

Dreaming big, flying high

Elaborating on her work, Aruba says that she deals with a variety of small aircrafts - typically 19-seater or smaller. “It is my responsibility to keep an aircraft technically fit so that it takes a safe flight.”

This involves a close inspection of its body, engine and the entire structure, she said, adding that all aircrafts must always be inspected before and after every flight.

According to Aruba, an aerospace engineer has a greater responsibility than other types of engineers because it is a sensitive field, which has different risks so there is no room for error at all.

“A vehicle moving on the road is safer as it is on the ground and can be repaired even in the middle of a drive. Whereas, an aircraft flies at an altitude of thousands of feet and even a minor fault can put the lives of pilot and passengers in danger.”

Aruba wants to showcase her skills by working with a Pakistani airline.

“I want to work as a female aerospace engineer in Pakistan and prove that Pakistani women can do whatever they want. Even become good engineers,” says Aruba, beaming.

A social malady

Aruba terms the tendency to prevent girls from progressing ‘a social disease’. She stresses on the need to eliminate this ‘disease’ and encourage parents to rid their children of gender bias from an early age.

Like every other woman who dares to enter a field dominated by men, Aruba too was discouraged by outsiders every step of the way. She was told countless times that a woman could not succeed as an engineer.

Initially, Aruba was fazed by the discouraging remarks that came her way. “But I realised that it wasn’t that difficult to work in the field of aerospace engineering once I entered it.”

It is true that there are barriers to entry for women, but there isn’t anything that they can’t do, says Aruba. Women are working in the field of aerospace engineering everywhere in the world and knowing this kept her determined to pursue her passion, she says. According to Aruba, unless a huge number of women brave the obstacles thrown their way and excel in different fields, society will not believe them capable.

“The men in my workplace also thought that I would get tired of the hard work this field demands but I proved them wrong with my persistence,” said Aruba, adding that eventually even the chief executive officer at the company noticed her determination and ended up supporting her.

A person can only receive recognition and appreciation if they believe in their own strengths, she said, encouraging other women to not pay heed to detractors and naysayers.

She asserts that the teachers should assess student’s tendencies at an early age and encourage them to focus on subjects they excel in regardless of gender.

This story is part of a weekly series that seeks to bring to light the unsung heroes of Karachi - the hawkers, traders, doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers and daily-wage labourers. It is they who make Karachi the city of lights.



Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2021.


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