Why did you focus on science and maths subjects at school?
I have always liked the idea of inventing new products and machines, and solving complex maths and physics problems. As a result, when I entered high school I chose science and maths subjects for both my Cambridge IGCSE and International AS & A Level courses as the syllabuses offered this type of challenge. I did very well in my exams, scoring three A* grades at Cambridge International A Level.
Did your Cambridge courses help you decide on your degree?
I had always wanted to study engineering at university, but it is a very broad field and you need to specialise. When studying for my Cambridge qualifications I realised that I really enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of my courses, and this eventually helped me narrow my degree choice down to aerospace engineering as it is a unique subject, involving multiple disciplines and offering many opportunities to explore other aspects of engineering. Then, in my last year at school I learnt about avionics (the electronic systems used in aircraft and spacecraft) and decided that a degree which combined aerospace engineering with avionics was the ideal course for me.
You decided to leave Kurdistan and study at Concordia University in Montreal – why the move abroad?
Many universities teach Aerospace Engineering, but only a few - including Concordia University - offer avionics as a specialism. Concordia also offers ‘co-op programmes’ which enable students to gain work experience while they study, and the course is very hands-on and gives students the opportunity to study and learn on real operating planes.
Is university life in Canada as you expected?
So far my university experience has been exceptional. We have the resources we need to explore our ideas, and there are many student clubs. For example, I am part of Space Concordia, which aims to create the largest liquid state rocket made by students, and also UAV Concordia which builds unmanned aerial vehicles. I am also enjoying living in Montreal – it’s a multicultural and bilingual city so I can make friends with people from all over the world and learn new languages. Montreal is also home to many international aviation organisations such as the IATA and ICAO.
Did your Cambridge qualifications gain you any advantages when applying to Concordia?
Yes. As a Cambridge student I could immediately enter the first year of my degree as I had excellent Cambridge International AS & A Level grades in the right subjects. Many international students wanting to enter a university in Quebec have to complete a preparatory year before they can start their degree in order to reach the standard required, either because they do not have the grades or their qualifications are not recognised. In my case, Concordia University accepted my Cambridge International AS & A level results as the equivalent of successfully completing the two-year Quebec college course required for entry to universities in the Province.
Have your Cambridge courses given you any other advantages?
The Cambridge approach to teaching is slightly different to the style and format used in Canada, but the flexibility that I learnt during my Cambridge studies meant I could easily adapt. I have also discovered that many of the topics covered during my International A Level courses have come up during my degree course, even in my second year.
Have your studies been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
As someone who wants to be surrounded by students and to learn directly from a teacher, I found online tuition difficult to get used to at the start. However, I got back on track by visualising myself in the class and by turning my camera on during lectures. The University also provided lots of practical online resources, and gave international students extended deadlines regarding travel and documentation, which all helped.
What are your plans for the future?
My ambition is to create new and innovative technologies which will hopefully have a positive effect on society, and potentially revolutionise the aviation industry. I plan to finish my degree in 2023 and then complete a PhD focused on aircraft electronics – my dream is to design and build my own aircraft and eventually launch a start-up focused on new technologies or space exploration. In addition, I enjoy teaching and helping others, so would like to set up an organisation to help Middle Eastern students progress their academic careers, and which would explain the benefits of studying with Cambridge.