Getting to Know Your Youth Engagement Committee – Alisha Sohpaul

To help our community get to know us a little better, we’re featuring Q&As each month about each of our team members. You can read about the whole team and check out who is behind all of BCAC’s exciting Youth Engagement projects here:


Alisha Sohpaul, BCAC Youth Learning Webinar Series Host

Age: 26

Occupation: Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (M1 & M2)

Image source: Alisha Sohpaul, 2020

What inspired you to get into Aviation?

– From a young age I loved aviation and knew that this was the industry for me. I was so fascinated by airplanes and how they worked. Going to the airport to pick up relatives brought me so much joy as a kid, I still get excited to this day. I didn’t know about aircraft maintenance engineering as a career until my sister’s friend’s husband mentioned that he was an AME. That’s how I heard about it being a career option and then once I graduated high school I attended the BCIT Open House and saw the program and I never looked back.

Image source: Alisha Sohpaul, 2020

What do you love most about your job?

– When I get to experience something as the “first female” to be in a leadership position because that means I’ve opened the doors for other women to follow in those footsteps. That inspires me to challenge not only myself but the male dominated industry and how it used to be. Also fixing defects on the plane and getting to watch it take off in the morning is very rewarding.

You’re part of the 2% of the female AMEs in Canada – what has been your biggest challenge so far?

– Having to prove myself as an AME to men who question my abilities/skill level. Being in leadership roles and having to supervise experienced AMEs and not receiving the same respect as my male colleagues in the same position has also been tough.

Have you worked with other female AME’s at any of your jobs? 

– Yes, which is incredible! At two different work places I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some fantastic female AMEs. Normally I’m the only female working in the hangar so it makes such a difference to work with other women who have similar stories/experiences and support each other.

How do you think we can inspire more women to consider AME as a career path?
– I think we need to start informing girls at a young age about these different career options. The issue is that young girls aren’t being exposed to this side of aviation. Like myself I didn’t even know this was a career let alone a career option for women. When people think about aviation they tend to think about pilots and flight attendants as the only careers but that’s not the case. I think shedding more light on the uncommon careers (ex: air traffic controller, maintenance controller & AME) and having female representation at career fairs or just showcasing women within companies is also super important.

What’s something the public doesn’t know about an AME’s job?

– There is a lot of researching and reading that has to be done before we can even work on a plane. For example, we have to read maintenance manuals that tell us step by step what we need to do in order to remove/install a part. Even for tightening a bolt or screw we need to find out the information in the manuals that tells us how much we need to torque it. You have to be very detail orientated and good at finding information in 1500+ page manuals.

 What are some leadership roles you have held in the past?

– Throughout my 7 years in this industry I’ve been very lucky in my career to have a wide range of experience and opportunities that most people my age don’t get to. I’ve got to train as a Maintenance Controller and was a Line Maintenance Supervisor for Jazz Aviation, prior to that I was the PRM at Kisik Aerial Survey. For all three of those positions I was the first female AME to hold those roles.

Favourite airplane to work on?

– For general aviation I loved helping restore a Republic RC-3 Seabee. I was lucky to be on the project from start to finish and seeing the transformation that happened over the course of a year was amazing to be a part of. We paint stripped the aircraft, I spent a month cleaning all the parts and then gutting the plane to replace a lot of the cables, hose and lines. For commercial aircraft I’d say the CRJ 900 was a great plane to work on because of the simplicity of the systems.

Favourite place to travel (in a non-COVID world)?

– Morocco was one for the books. I had such a great experience there and really enjoyed learning about their culture. I will say that it was hard finding vegetarian food for myself but it was still doable and some places had veggie options for their traditional meat dishes. I got to travel all over with a tour group for a month, we saw some Game of Thrones filming sites but sleeping under the stars of the Sahara Desert is something I will never forget.

Why did you join the Youth Engagement Committee?

– I was a part of the Youth Engagement Committee prior to this as well and when I heard it was starting back up I was very excited to join again. I wanted to help give back to the industry and support our youth. Especially the young females out there who are looking for guidance, I  hope that we can provide that and help encourage them to join our industry. Networking is very important in our industry and I really value all the connections I’ve made within our wonderful team and in the aviation community.

Image source: Alisha Sohpaul, 2020

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