Elizabeth is a Powerplant Engineer for an aerospace company in Vancouver, B.C.
What is your morning routine?
To be honest, I’m not much of a morning person. I take my time waking up in the morning. I take my dog for a good long walk, enjoy the landscape, then pour myself a coffee and I’m out the door. I arrive at work sometime before 10 a.m. I’m on the late shift, so our department can spread out our time and make sure the shop floor has enough engineering support to tackle the day-to-day problems. It works well for me because I like to have some personal time in the morning to get ready for the fast-paced day ahead.
Tell us about your career path.
I’m a Powerplant Engineer for an aerospace company in Vancouver. We have a maintenance shop for large turbine aircraft engines, and I’m responsible for determining what we need to inspect and repair in order to get the engines back on-wing. I graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University of Ottawa and started out in construction designing various building systems. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I was getting really great experience and was happy to have a good job. At the same time, I started taking flying lessons to get my private pilot licence. I loved flying and really enjoyed working as an engineer, so I figured I might as well try to combine the two and merge my passion into my career. I went back to school for a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto and have been working in the industry ever since.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
Unfortunately, I’m pretty used to being a minority in the science and engineering world. I think even these days one of the biggest challenges is being treated and feeling like an equal. At times it can be pretty intimidating being the only young woman in a room full of seasoned decision makers, but I try to remember that what I bring to the table is as unique and valuable as anyone else, which gives me the confidence I need to be heard.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
Absolutely follow your passion. If there’s something you truly love and enjoy doing, don’t ever be afraid to overcome any obstacles and pursue it. Life is an adventure that you only get one shot at, so don’t waste time being scared of the next step and the inevitable challenges. Instead, figure out a way to make things work, put the wheels in motion, and enjoy the trip.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
To a certain extent I don’t separate the two, aside from trying to keep work stress out of the house. I’m always bringing visitors into the shop because I think it’s pretty cool and that other people will enjoy it as well. I love sharing my work experiences with others because I think it’s really interesting, and secretly I really like nerding out about things I think are incredible, like aircrafts, engines, or the very concept of flying.
What inspires you?
Ideas inspire me. Dreaming big about radical ideas and endless possibilities, then exploring ways to make those things become a reality is what keeps me going. I believe you should never limit yourself to staying inside the box, and this way of thinking drives me to accomplish everything from solving technical problems to making my next career move. There’s no such thing as an idea that isn’t worth exploring, especially when it comes to your own dreams. It’s so true that where there’s a will, there’s a way!