Passengers in seats
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Combining my passions for aviation and the planet

by Ashveen

The whole world is changing, not just industrially, but environmentally as well. I’ve learned about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in the news, in articles, and even at school, but I hadn’t learned much about aviation and its sustainability practices. Before applying to university, I had no clue which path to take: aviation or environment. I've been crazy about aviation since I was a kid, but also enjoyed the simple things in life, like enjoying nature, going on hikes, and volunteering for Earth clean-ups.

Choosing between the two was like deciding between eating pizza and ice cream: they’re both amazing but in different aisles of a supermarket. After tons of research and hours of digging through university program descriptions, I found the Geography and Aviation program offered by the University of Waterloo. I went for it because it’s got the whole package – flying, geography, and the environmental implications of aviation. I love that I get a competitive edge compared to other flight graduates by completing a four-year undergraduate degree during my flight training. There’s also an incredible institute dedicated to building a sustainable future in air transport, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA), where aviation students can volunteer.

There are many things I learned about university practices that are different from high school. One thing is that it’s important to review the content before the lecture begins.

Ashveen during flight

This personally helps me recall information and follow along with discussions easily. Typically in school, your parents and teachers remind you of your assignments and responsibilities; however, in university, it is important to manage your time. Your typical school day isn’t structured into a six- to seven-hour-long day. In university, it varies a lot; for me, each class spans roughly one to three hours with either 10-minute breaks between classes or hours in between. This semester, I had only one class on Mondays, and in my previous semester, I had no class at all on Wednesdays!

Here's the secret sauce for acing your first year as an aviation student:

Practice time-blocking your days by using Google Calendar or Notion. Note due dates and plan out your day based on which work you need to complete and how long it will take. I recommend reaching out to upper-year students and mentors who will answer any questions you have. Dive into all the resources around you, and make sure you network/get to know your classmates and upper-years because you are sharing your career aspirations with them for the rest of your lives.