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November 23, 2000 Concordia launches Aerospace Design and Innovation Institute



Photo of Dean Nabil Esmail, Hany Moustapha and Jack Lightstone

Dean Esmail, Director of the Institute Hany Moustapha, and Provost Jack Lightstone were pleased to announce the launch of the new Institute.

by Maria Vincelli

The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science has launched a new training centre called the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation (CIADI).

“Technology is moving fast. There is a constant need to refresh the knowledge of engineers working in aerospace,” said Dean Nabil Esmail, explaining why the CIADI will offer seminars and workshops to practising engineers.

Concordia’s aerospace programs will also get more multi-disciplinary design content when the Institute becomes active in January 2001.

Graduate and undergraduate students will have the chance to collaborate on design and innovation projects with the aerospace industry, while students and working engineers will have access to state-of-the-art interactive computer facilities, hardware and display equipment and a specialized library.

As many as 250 government officials, representatives of the aerospace industry, deans from other universities, faculty and graduate students in the aerospace program were invited to inaugurate CIADI at a cocktail reception at the downtown Faculty Club yesterday afternoon.

The Institute, located on the third floor of the ER building, 2155 Guy St., will also house the Pratt and Whitney Canada Multi-Disciplinary Design Laboratory, where students will have the opportunity to work on aerospace projects in an industrial environment.

Pratt and Whitney Canada (P&WC) has committed $1.2 million over the next five years towards the establishment of the CIADI. Though the establishment of the Institute is not dependent on it, the Faculty hopes to secure another $2 to $2.5 million from government funding agencies, such as the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the provincial Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

The Institute will be affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, which already offers aerospace programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has a long history of collaboration with P&WC, as well as several other aerospace companies operating in the vicinity of Montreal.

Dr. Hany Moustapha, Senior Fellow and Manager of Technology, Technical Education & Collaboration Programs at P&WC, has been named Director of the Institute. Moustapha, also an adjunct professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has taught at Concordia since 1984.

He said that Dean Esmail approached him this summer with the suggestion that they work together to obtain one of several new chairs that NSERC has opened to promote and improve the teaching of design engineering across the country.

His timing was perfect, as P&WC had just given Moustapha responsibility for enhancing its own technical education program, including collaboration with government, industry and universities. Moustapha was looking for ways to expand P&WC’s educational partnerships from the traditional research-support relationship.

“Concordia knocked on the door first,” said Moustapha, “and was willing to provide the space and staff to work on this.”

According to Dean Esmail, industries using advanced technologies compete intensely for the limited number of bright, high-tech-inclined students. Moustapha hopes that having permanent visibility at Concordia will increase the number of top students seeking careers in the aerospace industry. It makes sense from the industry perspective to “invest in students before they are hired. That way they know the industry in Canada, and are more likely to stay in it,” he said.

Dean Esmail and Moustapha have also invited several aerospace companies operating in and around Montreal to participate in and contribute to the Institute. Those that provide funding to the Institute will be represented on the Institute’s Advisory Board. So far, all the companies contacted have shown interest, though none have made any commitments.

The Advisory Board will be a liaison between the university and the aerospace industry. It will assist the Institute with articulating its goals, strategic planning, curriculum development and evaluating its performance. It will also help draw speakers, lecturers and visiting faculty.