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News release

Concordia University awarded NSERC Chair in Aerospace Design Engineering

Chair to further enhance design engineering teaching and research

Montreal, November 18, 2015 – Montreal is home to one of the world’s leading aerospace hubs and has the second-largest density of aerospace jobs in the world. Now, a new NSERC Chair in Aerospace Design Engineering (NCADE) has been established at Concordia University with the aim of ensuring a continued increase in the quality and quantity of design engineering graduates to serve this thriving and rapidly evolving industrial sector. 

Catharine Marsden | Photo by David Ward Catharine Marsden | Photo by David Ward

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded $1 million in funding over five years under its Chair in Design Engineering (CDE) program for the NCADE. The primary objective of the CDE program is to help universities meet the growing demand for design engineering talent and to help them create and develop new and innovative designs, design concepts and design tools. With a permanent envelope of 16 CDEs across Canada, the competition for these prestigious chair positions is rigorous.

Catharine Marsden has been appointed senior chair holder at Concordia. Marsden will be responsible for leading the development of innovative undergraduate aerospace design engineering curriculum, teaching and learning strategies, and targeted post-graduate training and research. The NCADE approach will promote practical, hands-on experience and increased experiential learning through project-based content, increased laboratory experiments, and the introduction of a final year multi-disciplinary Aircraft Design Project through which students will work together as an integrated design team under the guidance of Marsden with the support of the NCADE industry sponsors. 

Marsden is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of work experience in the Canadian aerospace industry. Before joining Concordia University in July 2015, Marsden spent six years at the Royal Military College of Canada supervising aircraft capstone projects and teaching structural design and analysis courses.

The first award of its kind at Concordia, NCADE activities will be realized with the support of, and in close collaboration with, an impressive group of companies including major original equipment manufacturers Bell Helicopter, Textron Canada, Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Siemens Canada as well as SME’s Marinvent Corporation and Altair Engineering. The total value of the NCADE program is $4,4 million over five years.

“The Canadian aerospace industry is a fast-paced, highly technical and globally competitive sector,” says Marsden. “We need to ensure Concordia students are able to contribute to the field having mastered the right mix of solid academic skills as well as personal and professional skills that combine critical thinking, high creativity and flexible teamwork.”

The NCADE co-chair, Yong Zeng, having recently completed two terms as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Design Science (2004-2014), will lead NCADE research activities aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of undergraduate and graduate engineering student training. A professor in the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, Zeng will also develop and validate innovative methodologies directly applicable to the aerospace design and development process.

“Collaboration with industry sponsors is the vital component of the NCADE learning experience,” says Graham Carr, vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies at Concordia. “The creation and delivery of an apprenticeship program in close collaboration with industry takes existing internship and student club activities to a next level. It provides our students with enriched opportunities to “absorb” in-depth product knowledge, corporate culture and practices, and coherent career development throughout their undergraduate studies.”

B. Mario Pinto, NSERC president, adds, “NSERC is proud to support the Chair in Aerospace Design Engineering at Concordia University.  “This chair is focused on better preparing the next generation of design engineers for careers in Canada’s aerospace industry. Catharine Marsden and Yong Zeng bring a wealth of industrial and academic expertise. They will work together to increase the quality and quantity of trained engineering graduates by enhancing the aerospace curriculum and offering students opportunities to gain practical and creative experiences in aerospace design.” 



Fiona Downey
Fiona Downey
Public Affairs
514-848-2424, ext. 2518

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