Aerospace exposition and speed mentoring presents pathways to industry for engineering and science students

Posted on February 22, 2023

When Ginelle Johnston (Sc’13, Engineering Physics) graduated from Queen’s, she was not aware of any direct path into aerospace engineering or the aerospace industry. Today, as Manager of Emergency Support, Logistics and Services Deployment at CAE, the Montreal-based manufacturer of modelling, simulation and training for civil aviation and defence, she wants to ensure Queen’s Engineering students, prospective interns, and new graduates know there is plenty of opportunity for them in the industry.

“There are many roles within aerospace that do not require a direct degree in aerospace engineering,” she says. “In addition, the industry needs diverse talent well beyond engineering degrees. An aerospace firm needs all forms of talent including communications, marketing, legal, for example. For engineering graduates, there are plenty of options, regardless of your specialization. You can become on-the-job specialized in a technical sub-domain, such as avionics, landing gear, powerplant, or structures, or you can take roles of integrators.

Johnston entered the industry as an analyst, “where I got to mix the analytics from physics with engineering training. Once in the industry, I fell in love with the complexity of the international politics, business and technology.”

“Like myself when I left Queen's, I can imagine a number of students don't know the full extent of the aerospace industry in Canada. Airlines need rather extensive engineering expertise, and Montreal is the third largest aerospace hub in the world!”


Ginelle Johnston (Sc’13, Engineering Physics)


She is a board director of the not-for-profit Women in Aerospace Canada which hosted along with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Corporate Relations an aerospace expo and speed mentoring event on February 15 at Grant Hall. The expo attracted representatives, mentors, and Queen’s alumni from companies such as BETA Technologies, CAMP Systems International, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, Field Aviation, Fleet Canada, KF Aerospace, Magellan Aerospace, and MDA.

“Developing partnerships with educational institutions to help improve the pipeline is one of our priorities, and we look forward to putting up more events like the Queen's expo and mentoring."

“We met Ginelle through the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics,” says Nick Jewitt, the Queen’s Engineering Manager of Corporate Relations whose team is responsible for connecting employers and alumni looking to recruit Queen’s Engineering talent. “The initial plan was to do a colloquium, but she shared an idea that we all jumped on. Ginelle wanted to make coming back to Queen's more memorable by reaching more students and connecting them with other companies in the industry. The timing was great, we were already in the process of expanding our aerospace contacts given the interest in the industry from incoming students.”

“The aerospace industry is facing a talent crisis which is further exacerbated by a lack of diversity,” says Johnston. “Compared to other STEM industries, aerospace is lagging in gender and other forms of diversity. My hope is, through the joint exposition and speed mentoring events, we can help accelerate new talent into our industry and do so in a way that promotes accessibility to underrepresented groups.”


Aerospace expo and speed mentoring event, Grant Hall.