By Dario Ayala
MONTREAL (Globe and Mail) — The distance from Aleppo to the lab at Montreal’s Trudeau airport where a young engineer-in-training is perfecting her first invention is 8,580 kilometres, but Shoushi Bakarian’s trajectory might better be measured in light speed.
Three years ago, Ms. Bakarian was sitting in Lebanon, part of a family of four Syrian refugees facing an uncertain future with hope of making a new start in Canada. Fast-forward those 36 months: Ms. Bakarian is in her third year of aerospace engineering at Montreal’s Concordia University. She has learned her fourth language, French — in addition to English, Arabic and Armenian. She’s got two part-time jobs with promising prospects in her field: one in the parts department at Bombardier Aerospace and another at Stratos Aviation, a small aviation and flight simulation firm. There, she’s co-created her first invention in the lab she’s building. Oh, and she leads a Scout troop where she hopes to influence her young charges.
She’s 21. “I want to reach girls and tell them they don’t have to limit themselves to traditional jobs, like teachers. Especially for girls from my community, they have a very limited idea of what’s out there,” Bakarian says. “I want to become an example.”
On a recent late fall day, Bakarian tinkers with the tiny generator fan blades of her latest accomplishment: The Ventus, a 5-volt accessory charger for Cessna airplanes that runs off the aircraft’s air vents and as an added bonus cools the air by compressing it. The simple blue tube prototype seems likely to become a must-have accessory for pilots who rely on tablets and smartphones for aviation computation but fly aircraft that were mostly built long before the smartphone era.
“I like clean energy, solar power, wind power, so we developed it further to add on the charger idea,” she says. “I spent my summer designing, drawing and testing until it worked.”