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Government of Canada supports university-industry collaborations to prepare science and engineering graduates for jobs

University of Toronto partnership to provide hands-on training for next generation applications of drone technology

May 20, 2015 – Toronto, Ontario

More Canadian university graduates will have the job-ready skills required to hit the ground running in new emerging industries with civilian drone aviation through a new investment by the Government of Canada. The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), joined by Mark Adler, Member of Parliament for York Centre, today announced an investment of $28 million in job-related training for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Minister Holder and MP Adler made the announcement at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, where a team led by Dr. Hugh Liu is developing a training program that will increase the number of professionals working within the developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) industry. More commonly referred to as drones, UAVs hold promise for civilian applications in natural resource and agricultural crops monitoring, mineral exploration, journalism, search and rescue operations and infrastructure inspection.

The funding, which comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) initiative, will support university training programs in various research areas, including the materials/polymers sector, medical biomaterials, and sustainable energy. In all programs, participants learn to combine research knowledge and experience with the personal and professional skills needed in the workplace.

Quick Facts

  • At the University of Toronto, Dr. Hugh Liu is receiving up to $1.65 million through CREATE to develop a training program in collaboration with Canadian aerospace companies to prepare graduate students for jobs in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology sector. Graduates will learn about the design, development, and operation of UAV platforms and their civilian applications.
  • The NSERC CREATE Program is designed to add professional skills training to the qualifications and technical skills of Canadian researchers to better prepare them for careers in industry, government or academia. A total of 17 research teams with members at 28 universities will be funded during this round.
  • CREATE emphasizes four priority areas for science and technology:
    • Environmental science and technologies
    • Manufacturing
    • Information and communications technologies
    • Natural resources and energy
  • Through this year’s programs, graduate students will be doing research to improve the health of ecosystems, to develop intelligent unmanned systems, and to upgrade buildings and technology to use sustainable energy sources.
  • Funded teams are led by researchers who champion a training agenda that includes the personal and professional skills development necessary for students to succeed in the world outside academia (leadership, entrepreneurship, communications, project management, etc.).

Quotes

“Under our government’s updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, a key priority is ensuring Canada has highly-qualified people with skills that meet the demands of the modern economy. Through our support of the CREATE Program, university students receive the job-ready skills necessary to hit the ground running after graduation in emerging industries important to Canada’s prosperity.”
- The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)

“Our government continues to make record investments in science, technology and innovation to create jobs, prosperity and improve the quality of life of Canadians. Today’s announcement ensures teams of University of Toronto graduates will have the practical skills required for jobs in the civilian drone industry, which has applications in areas such as natural resources and mining, journalism, search and rescue operations, construction and infrastructure inspection.”
- Mark Adler, Member of Parliament for York Centre

“CREATE students master the skills needed for both discovery research as well as innovation. The program is designed to provide them with a strong foundation of life skills, with an emphasis on team-building and communications as well as interdisciplinary research excellence. Once they have completed their studies and research programs, they will be well placed to take on future challenges that make a real difference for the companies where they work and in the communities where they live.”
- Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President, NSERC

"This is a very a significant NSERC CREATE award, as it is geared toward developing practical research and business development skills in the most vibrant of aerospace sectors, unmanned aerial vehicles. Hopefully it will propel Canada to a leading global position in the use of UAV's for a wide range of applications that really do benefit our society, such as improved agricultural processes, highly integrated search and rescue and natural resource monitoring."
- Paul Gilbert, CEO, Quanser Inc.

"The NSERC CREATE Program is of tremendous benefit to the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Canadian academic research community. With its emphasis on preparation of graduate students for careers in industry, government and academia, it is an ideal complement to NSERC's other programs. The CREATE Program facilitates fundamental, long-term research while at the same time enabling the universities to educate graduates who will be ideally placed to bring such cutting-edge research to fruition in their subsequent careers to the benefit of society."
- Dr. David Zingg, UTIAS Director

Associated Links

The complete list of the 2015 CREATE grant recipients.

About NSERC

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is the primary funding agency supporting Canada’s science and engineering research community. The agency supports almost 30,000 postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding approximately 12,000 professors every year and works with over 3,000 Canadian companies that are participating and investing in postsecondary research projects.

Further Information

Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 343-291-2700

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-943-7618
media@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

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