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Sua Min Geok

Breaking Down Barriers
Young lass defies convention by joining Nilai U’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineering programme.
Even in this day and age of equal opportunities, some prejudices refuse to go away. Just ask Sua Min Geok and she will tell you how her parents were nonplussed about her field of study post-SPM. Her parents had wanted her to pursue a course in dentistry but Sua Min (as she is known to her friends) found the idea of looking down people’s gullets all day unappealing. Instead, she took her hobby of assembling aircraft models a step further by applying for a place in Nilai University’s Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering programme. 
 
“My parents were not too pleased, believing it to be a field more suited to boys,” says Sua Min with the slightest hint of exasperation. They relented when they could see how determined their daughter was about pursuing a career in this sector of aviation. A quick visit to Nilai U’s picturesque campus sealed the deal as the parents were impressed by the learning facilities and the availability of secure on-campus accommodation. The former includes a purpose-built hangar with two aircraft for students to hone their chops. There are also specialist workshops and audio-visual rooms for the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering students.
 
Though she is not the first female to enroll in the programme at Nilai University (Nilai U), they remain a minority every intake. The Kepong lass is determined to break down these preconceptions and to get more ladies to , at least, consider aircraft maintenance engineering as a career option. She starts by deconstructing the notion that only the physically strong can succeed in this field. A slight and petite young lady, Sua Min was not at all perturbed by her lack of muscular bulk.  “The lecturers assured me from the beginning that small-sized individuals like myself have a big advantage. We are the ones who can crawl into tight, confined spaces to do repairs and such occurrences are very frequent. If you can imagine the inner workings of an aircraft, especially the smaller planes, you will see the advantages of being small” she explains. 
 
Sua Min also points out that the girls often do very well in the all-important European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) B1-1 examinations. “This programme is not solely focused on practical skills. There is a lot of theoretical work as well and none more so when preparing for the EASA exams,” she says. The EASA B1-1 examinations are the first step towards becoming a fully-licensed engineer. Students must pass all 13 modules and gain 3-5 years relevant working experience before becoming a fully licensed engineer who is authorised to certify on the airworthiness of a plane.  This internationally-recognised qualification is highly sought after as it is a passport to lucrative careers abroad. 
 
Although still in her first year of the programme and grappling with some areas of the syllabus (“I am finding Electronic Instruments tough”), Sua Min has already shown her mettle by scoring a CGPA of 3.74. She intends to graduate with a Distinction to repay her parents’ faith in allowing her to pursue her dreams. “I want to do well and show the world that we girls can succeed in this area. I certainly hope more girls will consider this programme and not be put off by preconceived notions as it offers rewarding careers in a very exciting field.”
 
Students from the Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering programme have the option of joining a top up programme at Nilai U, which offers a BSc (Hons) in Aircraft Engineering from Kingston University, UK to those who successfully complete it. 
 
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