Amir Asif & Isabelle Dostaler

CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY

October 19, 2017

How important is aerospace teaching and research to Concordia?

AA: Since Montreal is a major hub for aerospace engineering research and development activities, aerospace has always been important to Concordia and we continue to strengthen our expertise and links with the industry. For many years we have offered a professional master’s degree program in aerospace engineering and an aerospace specialization within the undergraduate mechanical engineering program. We have always had close ties with major aerospace companies such as Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Bell Helicopter, Siemens (Rolls Royce), and a number of SMEs.

How does Concordia facilitate student participation in the industry?

AA: Concordia offers three main ways for its students to contribute: the co-op program, internships and apprenticeships. Since the establishment of Concordia’s Institute of Aerospace Design & Innovation (CIADI) in 2002, the university has placed about 1500 undergraduate students on internships in the aerospace industry. About 500 of these students are working as full time employees with the companies where they worked as interns. Over the years, the feedback from the industry has been that, while they value the program, it takes too long to train graduates to be productive in the workplace. In consultation with aerospace industry, Concordia therefore launched the BEng in Aerospace Engineering in 2016. The curriculum focuses on developing the “right” skills so graduates can contribute from day one of their placements. An innovative feature of the program is an apprenticeship component that places students in different departments of the same company over four years of their studies. The industry is contributing financially toward the apprenticeship program, which is also supported through an NSERC Chair in Aerospace Design Engineering (NCADE) whose role it is to incorporate engineering design and hands-on practical experience for our students.

How are you preparing students for Industry 4.0?

AA: A key part of Industry 4.0 is cyber-physical system technology that connects objects from physical and virtual worlds through an “internet-of-things” framework. Both cyber-physical systems and internet-of-things are active research areas in the faculty. Concordia has a strong background in associated fields, including virtual reality, communication networks, artificial intelligence, data analytics and systems software, and was one of the first universities to offer an undergraduate degree in software engineering.

The business school launched an aviation think tank in September 2016. Could you elaborate on its purpose?

ID: The think tank serves as a neutral platform for industry professionals and researchers to focus on a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the aviation sector. The impetus for it came from the former CEO of Air Canada and IATA, Pierre Jean Jeanniot, who is the chairman of our advisory board. Major projects so far include a large research contract from the Québec government to develop a strategy for air regional transportation in the province.

Concordia boasts a wealth of research collaborations with industry. Could you describe any particularly interesting research projects? 

AA: We are working on NSERC funded projects that address industry needs. Within aerospace engineering, the research includes avionics, instrumentation and control, combustion and propulsion, materials and structures, surface engineering, renewable energy as well as aerospace design and simulation. We collaborate with the industry on research into aerospace robotics and have ongoing research in collaboration with the industry on integration advanced electromagnetics in aerospace design. Underpinning these projects is the fact that Concordia has a very progressive intellectual property (IP) policy that encourages both researchers and industry to invest time and money into projects.

What are your key objectives for the next five years with regard to aerospace?

AA: The faculty has just developed its strategic plan. We aspire to be one of the top engineering schools in Canada. As part of this, we want to foster niches in strategic areas such as aerospace engineering and to continue to develop academic and research programs in next generation technologies working directly with industry.

ID: In line with the university’s core values, we want to embrace the world through aerospace and for Montréal to be the world’s top aerospace hub. With regards to the aviation think tank, our immediate objective is to secure more input and financial support from the industry in order to conduct research that will help design sound aviation policy and business practice.

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