January 10, 2019

Syrian Refugee’s Aviation Career Taking Flight


Only three years ago Shoushi Bakarian, a teen-aged refugee from war-torn Aleppo, Syria was with her family at a refugee processing centre in Lebanon, wondering what the future would hold for her.

Today she holds down two part-time aviation jobs, one at Bombardier Aerospace where she works in the parts department, and another at Stratos Aviation, a flight simulation company, where Bakarian is working on new product development.

On a recent day in Stratos Aviation’s lab, Bakarian was working on one of her projects, which she co-invented. Called the Ventus, it is a small device that is designed to generate cool air from a small aircraft’s air vents by using the venturi effect. During the product’s development stage, it was modified to also generate enough current to charge smartphones and tablets during flight. “I like clean energy, solar power, wind power, so we developed it further to add on the charger idea,” the 21-year-old Bakarian said in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “I spent my summer designing, drawing and testing until it worked.”

If those two jobs were not enough, Bakarian is currently in her third year at Montreal’s Concordia University where she is working on a degree in aerospace engineering. Thanks to her presence in Montreal, Bakarian has picked up French, adding to her repertoire of other languages, which include Armenian, Arabic and English.

“I guess she must sleep very little. We’ve never seen her as an employee, [but] more as a partner in the team,” said Stratos owner Naor Cohen. “She’s free to come whenever stuff needs to be done. Right now, she’s concentrating mainly on the lab. We want to put that imagination and creativity to work more.”

Bakarian also leads a local Scout troop. “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,” said Bakarian. “I want to become an example.”