The CIADI advantage
The Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation (CIADI) provides students with a competitive advantage as they launch their careers in the aerospace industry. What does an education that includes the CIADI advantage look like? We asked five current students and graduates to share their experiences of working and studying with the institute.
Mohammad Youssef: ‘Hands-on experience, early on’
“Every aerospace student at Concordia should take advantage of the many opportunities the university has to offer, including joining various student societies,” says Mohammad Youssef, an undergraduate student in his last semester of a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering.
Youssef particularly valued the chance to participate in projects that required student members to organize events, negotiate deals with vendors and gain skills that are useful for working in the aerospace industry.
Youssef praises the institute for its industry partners, such as Siemens, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Bombardier. Another advantage CIADI gives students is the chance to secure international internships, which Youssef regrets not having been able to take advantage of. He did, however, complete a summer research project as well as four consecutive internships through CIADI. “During my first three internships, I worked in the engineering departments at Rolls-Royce/Siemens and my deliverables required technical knowledge of industrial gas turbines,” says Youssef. “My final internship was at Pratt & Whitney in the supply chain department, which offered a completely different work environment focusing on the sourcing of parts.”
For Youssef, the CIADI advantage for undergraduate students lies in the opportunity to create a large professional network and test knowledge acquired in class in the real world through internships.
Keroles Riad: ‘I owe CIADI my career. There is no other way of looking at it’
“Within a few months of my first CIADI research internship, I got an offer from Pratt & Whitney Canada to do an internship the following semester,” says Keroles Riad, who holds a bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and is currently a research assistant and master’s student in Concordia’s INDIvidualized program.
Riad completed two more internships during his undergraduate studies. “My challenge in writing up my CV had suddenly become, ‘What do I keep?’” he says.
CIADI encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary research projects that reflect the day-to-day reality of working in the field of aerospace. Many students, including Riad, seize that opportunity throughout their academic careers, and see it as a distinct advantage. Riad’s project focuses on the development of new materials for 3D printing to make it more appealing to industries like aerospace. CIADI helped him get a global internship in the Particle Technology Laboratory (PTL). The laboratory was so pleased with the future PhD student’s work that they invited him to come back for annual visits of longer duration.
Riad’s advice to current and prospective aerospace students is straightforward: “Get your hands dirty! Volunteer in academic and non-academic activities. Do it all! Just keep on trying, take risks and do not be afraid of making mistakes. It’s how you learn.”
As demonstrated by Riad’s diverse experience, the CIADI advantage for master’s students comes from the opportunities they are given to conduct independent, interdisciplinary research that helps make them global players in their field
Navid Sharifi: ‘CIADI provides the perfect balance between academia and industry’
“I have been very fortunate to work with, and learn from, some of the most successful and prolific professors in the faculty,” says Sharifi, who currently works as a research assistant in the Thermal Spray and Multiphase Flow Laboratories of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Navid Sharifi describes his acceptance into the PhD program at Concordia as one of the most important and life-changing moments in his professional career.Navid Sharifi describes his acceptance into the PhD program at Concordia as one of the most important and life-changing moments in his professional career.
“I truly believe that the greatest thing about Concordia is its people,” he adds, in reference to the collaborative nature of his work. Sharifi is currently in the final phase of his PhD program, working on plasma-sprayed superhydrophobic coatings for anti-icing applications in aerospace. In other words, he wants to make sure flights leave on time and aren’t grounded by icy wings. His research is detailed in this In Focus video.
The CIADI advantage means students can gain relevant experience working on projects that include parameters defined by industry partners. For Sharifi, “the institute’s programs provide the perfect balance between academia and industry.”
Niloofar Moradi: ‘CIADI recognizes that soft skills also matter’
Moradi now works in the turbine aerodynamics department at Pratt & Whitney Canada. She’s also studying and completing a project for her master’s degree.
To recent Concordia graduate Niloofar Moradi, the CIADI advantage goes beyond network and skills development. “CIADI not only helped me tremendously in enriching my technical knowledge, but also trained me to become an effective communicator,” she says. “It helped me to develop my leadership skills and hone my interpersonal skills through the opportunity to act as vice-president of a student organization for two years.”
At Pratt & Whitney, Moradi has had the chance to work on several cutting-edge turbine design projects and has been exposed to testing. She is an ambassador for her employer, which is sponsoring her post-graduate work.
Moradi’s career path shows that recent graduates benefit from the CIADI advantage by receiving a well-rounded education. Working with the institute that allows them to develop strong technical and research skills, as well as transferable skills that are valued by industry employers.
Ismail Mokabel: ‘Practical experience in the aerospace field’
Ismail Mokabel obtained his bachelor of engineering from Concordia in 2005. In 10 years, he has risen within Pratt & Whitney to become executive director of Commercial Services.
“I first worked at Pratt & Whitney Canada as an undergraduate doing research during a CIADI internship,” he says. “I was hired as a full-time employee before I even graduated. CIADI gives students the opportunity to get their feet wet through practical experience in the aerospace field. It’s a tremendous advantage, since companies looking to hire can find prospects who are not only well trained academically but a good fit as employees, since they already understand the company’s culture.”
Mokabel has returned to Concordia to pursue his master’s while working. He believes in the importance of bridging theory and research, while exploring the industry’s latest trends.
To him, the project-based aspect of aerospace studies at CIADI replicates the industry’s reality. It requires students to challenge themselves and use tools they will work with on a daily basis once they’re in the field. Mokabel thinks that students should gain as much industry experience as possible through CIADI’s programs. “It will allow you to speak with greater authority once you’ve been exposed to the practical applications of course material in professional environments,” he says.
For Mokabel the CIADI advantage is that the institute provides a home to return to — a place engineers can revisit, either to pursue more studies or find out about advances in the field that are coming out of academia.