Prathibha Perumal is one of two recipients of the Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) Women in Aviation Scholarship fund, in partnership with Cranfield University. Here Prathibha, who is studying for an MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design, talks about her lifelong fascination with aviation, what winning the scholarship means to her, and her future career aspirations.
What sparked your interest in aerospace vehicle design?
Aircraft have always been wonder machines. Even as a child I was drawn to the immense engineering marvel of flight. Although my passion was towards becoming a fighter pilot, gathering more knowledge and awareness about flight changed my vocation to design and engineer an aircraft. This led to pursuing a master’s in avionics and now in aerospace vehicle design.
Can you tell us a little bit about your life before coming to Cranfield?
Hailing from the electronics background, understanding aviation wasn’t an easy task. I pursued my master’s in avionics with little exposure to hands-on. To develop deeper understanding, I worked on varied projects on robotics, aeromodelling, 3D printing, and electronic models. I worked as a principal consultant at an esteemed organisation, and gained higher proficiency by designing, teaching STEM concepts and project development, which kept me motivated and aligned to the future technology.
Why did you choose Cranfield?
Of all the universities, Cranfield is the only campus to have an airfield, where students will be able to work on actual aircraft. The project development included industry standards and we get to work on real-time problem statements from industry. In addition, the overall course is designed to give extensive knowledge on the specialisation. Furthermore, the research and development the university has worked on since 1946 is monumental and serves as a repository for students.
What does winning the NAC Women in Aviation scholarship mean to you?
Everyone has a dream, and it takes courage and support to accomplish them. The NAC Women in Aviation scholarship is one of the best encouragements and support I have received to achieve my dreams. The scholarship not only relieved a great deal of financial pressure but also recognised the efforts put through. I am deeply thankful to Nordic Aviation Capital for driving me to set a new goal.
How are you finding the course? What are the highlights?
The Aerospace Vehicle Design MSc course started by imparting the basics of aerospace engineering, slowly raising the standards and deepening the learning on core subjects. Lectures are always delivered with a blend of expertise and the experiences of exceptionally knowledgeable professors. Working on real-time industry projects and skills are the highlights of the course. My personal favourite was aircraft accident investigation, learning how to build a safer system even through our faults.
What career path do you hope to pursue after graduating?
I would like to work in the avionics research and development sector. With the advancement of the semiconductor industry and A.I. the cockpit and control of an airplane can be widely optimised, revolutionising the concept of flight.
What would you say to other women interested in getting into your industry?
The sky is never the limit, neither is gender. It shouldn’t really stop you from reaching out to your dreams. Aviation is an astounding and burgeoning industry. Although it can feel that men continue to dominate in the aviation industry, we are seeing more women accomplish great things in this field. The industry awaits revolutionary women to create chronicles. Spread your wings, be fearless to try and succeed.
What are your thoughts about the future of the aviation industry?
I envision the ground-breaking technology being used in the aviation industry, and designing and building more fuel-efficient, self-sustainable aircraft making intelligent decisions which will improve safety and standards. I also believe air modes of transport will be widely available and affordable to all saving time, improving efficiency and strengthening the bonding among the countries across the globe.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
My future plan is to start a non-profitable organisation, gathering aviation enthusiasts and providing a platform to collaborate, share and learn more about the aviation industry, making the knowledge, technological advancements, innovations, and transport available to all, building a huge network of experts to work towards revolution of the aerospace industry.
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