On the wings of giants
Joyce Ho, an aircraft engineer licence trainee at Haeco, has few problems getting the attention of family and friends when she talks about her work. "When I tell people I have been working inside the huge engine compartment of an aircraft or walking on the wing of a jumbo jet, it usually gets the 'wow' response," she says.
Ho has been an aircraft enthusiast since her mid-teens. "From watching television documentaries, I became fascinated by the structure of aircraft, how the engines work, and the design and efficiency that keeps on improving," she says. She describes how now she feels lucky to be able to see the parts of an aircraft that most people never get to see.
Ho says her parents support her career choice and expect her to flourish in an industry that is continually expanding.
After completing her secondary education in Hong Kong, where she concentrated on maths and science, Ho went to Britain to study aeronautical and aerospace engineering at the University of Leeds, where she gained her masters in engineering.
She returned to Hong Kong and joined Haeco in 2012, spending the first year of the three-year programme at Haeco's customised technical training school in Tseung Kwan O. There she completed her basic training, learning about different aircraft types and completing the first round of exams.
"While an understanding of maths and science topics are important and help with exams, when you join Haeco, you begin your career as if you are a blank page," Ho says. She now works at Haeco's Chek Lap Kok facility, where training includes more hands-on experiences.
She explains that the combination of on-the-job training and studying for exams is challenging, but satisfying. "Anyone thinking of joining the industry has to have real passion and be prepared to show commitment," she says. For herself, she has set herself the goal of obtaining her chartered engineer qualification within five years.
In an industry where precise working methods and safety is paramount, Ho says there are no career short cuts that can outweigh experience. "You need to work and study hard and, most importantly, be patient."