The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science and in particular the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering has been intimately involved in teaching and research within the disciplines related to Aerospace for many years.
In ENCS we currently have over 18 professors applying their particular expertise to aerospace-related projects and activities. This includes teaching of aerospace specific courses in undergraduate and graduate programs, supervision of graduate student research in aerospace projects, conducting contract research projects and obtaining government research grants in aerospace topics. The faculty members in ENCS have also been active in learned societies related to aerospace, organising conferences, reviewing journal papers and developing curricula.
The MIE Department currently has an Aerospace and Vehicle Systems Option within the B.Eng. Mechanical Eng. and this has proved to be a popular choice for many students along with the Thermofluids and Propulsion Option (which also can be strongly associated with Aerospace through courses such as Gas Turbine Design etc). At the Undergraduate level we offer several courses in specific aerospace subjects (including Flight Control Systems, Turbomachinery and Propulsion, Avionics and Space Systems). A new specialisation in Avionics and Airborne Systems was introduced through collaboration with the Centre d’adaptation de la main-d’oeuvre aérospatiale au Québec (CAMAQ) who will be arranging the industrial stages for students taking this specialisation (both from the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Programs). Concordia is the first University in Montreal to launch this specialisation. All the engineering schools were approached but due to the existing competence and expertise at Concordia we were the first faculty able to deliver. We are also the only University faculty to have a certifiable Flight Simulator in our laboratories (courtesy of Mechtronix).
The principal program related to Aerospace in ENCS is the Master of Engineering – Aerospace offered through the MIE Department. This is a 45 credit course-based degree involving technical core and elective courses, industrial stages and projects. The program was initiated in 1990 through industry-university collaboration on the premise that there would be an upcoming shortage of highly qualified personnel in the aerospace sector. Three universities took up the challenge initially, Concordia, McGill and Ecole Polytechnique with a further three joining more recently (Sherbrooke, Laval and ETS). Students in the program are required to take at least one course at two of the sister institutions as part of their degree making this a truly collaborative and multi-institutional program. Due to the requirement for industrial stages and the commensurate security classifications (ITAR) required in many aerospace companies the enrolment tends be rather select.
Students can specialize in the following areas: Aeronautics and Propulsion, Avionics and Control, Structures and Materials, and Space Engineering. Courses include: Flight Control Systems, Aerodynamics, Gas Turbine Design, Helicopter Flight Dynamics, Operational Performance of Aircraft, Standards, Regulations and Certification, Materials Engineering for Aerospace and Avionic Navigation Systems.
In terms of research-based Masters and PhD thesis degrees, the faculty members of ENCS have supervised over 50 research students to graduation in aerospace-related topics and when one considers the research activity to be discussed in the following section one can understand why this number is growing rapidly.
In 2001 the Concordia Institute for Design and Innovation (CIADI) was established within the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. The role of this Institute was to provide a mechanism through which senior undergraduate engineering students could undertake real engineering tasks, including design, analysis and research, in aerospace companies and get paid for summer internships on these projects. The first summer began with nine students but this number reached the astonishing number of 163 in 2007-08.
The Aerospace industry members of CIADI received trained and eager students who have showed consistently high levels of competence in these real world engineering tasks and situations and many of the former CIADI students have gone on to be offered full-time positions with these very same companies upon graduation. Although it is difficult to know where every student has found a career, we do have some statistics about where some of these CIADI students found their first full-time engineering position: in 2004, at least sixteen had positions in aerospace companies, in 2005 another twenty two were employed in this sector in Montreal; in 2006 - seventeen, in 2007 – twenty eight and in 2008, forty three students were employed in aerospace upon graduation. To date, there are at least 136 CIADI students who have obtained a full-time position in aerospace on graduation (for whom we have data). This speaks clearly to the professional engineering training for aerospace that the students receive through ENCS and CIADI.
This CIADI model has been so successful at Concordia that other institutions have rushed to copy it and set up their own institutes (Ecole Polytechnique, ETS and Ryerson). CIADI at Concordia has now expanded the projects to Masters level students. Although the bulk of the projects have traditionally been taken by Mechanical Engineering students, the institute is multidisciplinary and more and more projects for Industrial, Electrical and Computer Engineering students are being awarded.
Research has long been a strong point of the Departments of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering and it should be noted that quite some considerable amount of research activity has been, and continues to be, conducted in the various fields related to aerospace. Faculty in MIE and ECE have published more than 80 aerospace-related articles in peer-reviewed journals and 80 refereed conference proceedings. Combine this with the significant number of thesis students (>50 in the last 15 years) who have graduated at the Masters and PhD level this is a true indication of the expertise in aerospace that resides at Concordia.
In addition to research grants, the Faculty has been awarded many research contract projects related to Aerospace, which include Consortium de recherche et d'innovation en aerospatiale au Quebec (CRIAQ) projects and other contract research projects. Some of these research contracts indicate the combination of fundamental engineering science with technological applications which are the hallmark of the ENCS researcher.Research areas have changed with the times and as the faculty members themselves have changed. The expertise of these professors covers many of the topics involved in aerospace (Flight Controls, Avionics, Structures and Materials, Fluid Mechanics and Propulsion Systems etc) and it is this combination of areas that make Concordia a unique place.
The research activities of the more than 19 current ENCS professors (and several former faculty) in the field of aerospace are a testament to the role that ENCS and Concordia play in the domain of aerospace engineering. These faculty are also active in learned societies related to aerospace, reviewing journal articles, organising conferences and receiving awards.