Nuts and bolts aviation the goal

21:07, Dec 22 2013
Girl Mechanic
GIRL POWER: Cynthia Teokotai, the only woman enrolled in MIT’s new certificate in mechanical engineering, dreams of flying and fixing airplanes and she says it’s a job women can do just as well as men.

Engineering might seem like a man's world but that hasn't stopped Cynthia Teokotai from tackling it head on.

The 19-year-old is the first and only female student studying on Manukau Institute of Technology's new level 4 national certificate mechanical engineering programme.

"The guys started off being a bit sexist but I'm like one of the guys now," Ms Teokotai says.

"But I still have to remind them to still be gentlemen!"

Ms Teokotai has just finished her first year of the two-year programme and says it's a stepping stone for her to move into her dream career: flying and working with planes.

The Wattle Downs resident took an engineering course at Papakura High School and also took part in an aviation gateway programme at Ardmore Airport.


She didn't study aviation or aeronautical engineering straightaway because of financial reasons.

But an emerging leaders scholarship from MIT, complete with $4000 towards her uni fees, has given Ms Teokotai the chance to study the mechanical engineering certificate.

The course will give her the general skills needed to work in the aviation industry, she says.

After she finishes the certificate, Ms Teokotai plans to apply for an apprenticeship at Air New Zealand.

Her father was initially against her choosing an engineering career because he felt it was a male's world, she says. But that only made her want to study it more.

Being the only girl in the class can be challenging but she believes women interested in engineering should just go for it.

"Don't be intimidated and don't think it's just guys," she says.

"[Women] can do it just as well, or even better."

MIT maintenance and reliability centre manager Larry Wiechern is a full supporter of having women in the engineering industry.

"Women add another dimension to engineering. They think differently and have proven to be very successful.

"Women tend to read instructions better than males too!"

Manukau Courier