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The sky’s the limit for aerospace engineer Niloofar Moradi

“Like my father, who’s a mechanical engineer, I always loved math, physics and airplanes.”
September 24, 2018
By J. Latimer

Long before entering Concordia’s Department of Mechanical Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, Niloofar Moradi, BEng 10, had a clear idea of her life path. “Even as a young girl growing up in Iran, I knew I’d pursue a career within the STEM subjects,” she says, referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “Like my father, who’s a mechanical engineer, I always loved math, physics and airplanes.”

Today Moradi is a turbine mechanical designer at Pratt & Whitney Canada in Longueuil, Que. Her impressive resumé also includes stops at NASA and Rolls Royce Canada.

Niloofar Moradi, BEng 10 Niloofar Moradi, a turbine mechanical designer at Pratt & Whitney Canada, and was named Young Alumna of the Year by the Concordia University Alumni Association In 2018.

She’s been keeping busy — and earning recognition for her stellar work.

In 2018, Moradi received the Northern Lights Aero Foundation’s Elsie MacGill Award, which honours women for their contributions in specific aviation and aerospace disciplines, and was named Young Alumna of the Year by the Concordia University Alumni Association.

The path to Pratt & Whitney Canada

Moradi credits her undergraduate engineering degree from Concordia for giving her a thorough grounding in “the basics” — foundation courses in thermodynamics, materials properties and mechanical design.

She singles out her three internships organized through the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation for helping propel her career. “I did an internship at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, which was a dream come true,” she says. “I helped develop a system to manage data reduction for a centrifugal compressor. It was such a rich experience.”

During another internship, this time at Rolls Royce Canada in Montreal, she performed aerodynamic analysis of industrial intakes using 3D computational fluid dynamics methods. Rolls Royce Canada hired her after graduation. She joined Pratt & Whitney in turbine aerodynamics in 2010.

“Exposure to the real-world environment was invaluable,” says Moradi of her internships. “You get exposed to the real world, which allows you to pinpoint your passion and learn the crucial soft skills.”

Her passion, it turned out, was developing products for market. “There’s a thrill being involved in the development of a company’s new product — being there for the design phase through to implementation,” Moradi says.

While working full time at Pratt & Whitney Canada, Moradi completed her master’s of applied science degree at École de technologie supériere in Montreal in 2015. Yet it was two of her Concordia mechanical, industrial and aerospace engineering professors who made a lifelong impression on Moradi.

“I’ll never forget my professor Lyes Kadem,” she says. “To demonstrate a thermodynamics concept, he brought in an experiment and explained how the concept would be applicable in the industry and in everyday life. That had a big impact on me.”

Equally impressive for her was Martin Pugh, who taught Moradi a course in materials. “He actually brought in hardware — parts of machines — for us to pass around and feel and touch,” she recalls. “It really drove home his point about how stark the difference in density and weight can be between similar-looking parts of different materials, and how crucial this can be in its application.”

With a booming career underway, Moradi still finds time to encourage young women to get involved in STEM studies and occupations.

Moradi also organizes scuba diving trips with her husband, Jayson MacKiddie, BEng 10, an electrical engineer who works at Bombardier in Montreal. “We met in advanced engineering mathematics class,” she says. “This fall we’re going to drive along the coast of Portugal and dive the Azores. It’s funny where life can take you.”

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