OPINION: New aerospace centre would allow universities and industry to collaborate on research projects
How do we make the aerospace sector in Montreal and Quebec become more sustainable and carbon-neutral in the near future?
Successfully addressing this challenge is key to allowing all stakeholders in the aerospace industry—cégeps, universities, industry, research centres—to provide valuable input, in order to meet the needs of an increasingly competitive aerospace global market.
One potential solution the whole Montreal aerospace community—Aéro Montréal, Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ), National Research Council Canada and universities in Quebec— has been working, including us at the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation (CIADI), for over two years now is the Centre de collaboration pour l'innovation en aérospatiale et mobilité (CCIAM).
This Centre would allow the industry, universities and the NRC to collaborate on research and development projects, as well as offer specialized training. The CCIAM would allow us to conduct large scale collaborative projects which can hardly be managed in a single university.
Located in the Technoparc Montréal in the Saint-Laurent borough, the Centre would also feature a large drone testing centre, which would allow us to fly several drones together. It would house state-of-the-art equipment, something that we could not support in any individual university alone. Such a testing location would be of great interest to the NRC, as well as companies located nationally and worldwide.
The Centre would be an exceptional space for conferences and trainings opportunity for our next generation of engineers and to encourage discussions between aerospace stakeholders from Quebec and Canada.
Answer to the ZIAQ call for proposal
This CCIAM project is a key component of our answer to the Quebec government’s call for proposal for its Zone d’innovation en aérospatiale du Québec (ZIAQ) (read La Presse article from November 9, 2021).
The ZIAQ’s goal is to bring Québec's aerospace cluster to a level of cooperative innovation that will become the benchmark for an aerospace industry focused on a sustainable future.
In order to succeed, this vision must focus on the pillars of social, technological and economic development, including decarbonization, electrification, autonomy, digitalization and state-of-the-art advanced materials.
The Québec government expects stakeholders in aerospace, particularly universities like ours, to be involved in the chain of innovation from basic research to the implementation of complex design project ideas.
Our first proposal was officially submitted to the Quebec’s ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) in December 2020 and after feedback was received, a complementary document was submitted in May 2021. We also collaborated with urban planners to help us design a cooperative and pleasant space for people to interact and work.
The aerospace industry is on the brink of transformative changes which will impact aerospace education and research for years to come.
If we want Montreal and Quebec to continue having a leadership position in the aerospace industry, investing in the ZIAQ and our Centre proposal is essential to successfully achieve our sustainable and carbon-neutral vision for the future of aerospace.
Christian Moreau is director of Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation (CIADI) and professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Industrial Engineering at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science at Concordia University.