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Satellites at Magellan.

A model of a satellite at Magellan Aerospace.

New NSERC Chairs announced for U of M

More bang for your buck with low-cost satellite manufacturing, and reworking engineering courses to integrate innovative design skills

May 11, 2018 — 

Two new engineering research chairs have been announced for the University of Manitoba. 

The first is a new Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Satellite Engineering established at the U of M through a partnership between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Magellan Aerospace. The IRC will receive a total of $1.25 million in funding over the next five years from NSERC and Magellan Aerospace.
 
The other is an NSERC Chair in Design Engineering for Sustainable Development and Enhanced Design Integration, receiving $2.3 million over five years from NSERC ($1 million) and 11 sponsors ($1.3 million). The sponsors are: Boeing Canada, MacDon Industries, EnviroTREC, Magellan Aerospace, New Flyer Industries, Standard Aero, Manitoba Aerospace, WestCaRD, Price Industries and Friends of Engineering (Manitoba) Inc.
 
The funding was announced by Dr. Doug Eyolfson, Member of Parliament for Charleswood-St James-Assiniboia-Headingley.

“Aerospace in Winnipeg is a thriving industry that plays an integral role in our economy and creating good paying jobs for Manitobans. These investments in the IRC and the NSERC will continue to ensure our aerospace industry prospers and will pave the way for future generations to work in the field in our home province,” he said.

“These two research chairs at the University of Manitoba will deepen R&D partnerships between the institution and provincial industries,” said Dr. Marc Fortin, Vice-President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. “Under the leadership of these chairs, future innovators will be trained and inspired to help build the workforce Manitoba needs to thrive in a technology driven economy.”
 
The IRC in Satellite Engineering creates a research program to speed up the costly and lengthy development process currently required for manufacturing satellites. It will help make satellite technology less expensive and more accessible than currently possible, and will pave the way for growth in the academic and commercial sectors for the benefit of Canadian society.
 
This new IRC will be held by Dr. Philip Ferguson, who has more than 10 years of research and high quality personnel training experience in this field. Ferguson was recently the vice president of product development for PrecisionHawk (Toronto, ON), an international technology firm dedicated to the research and development of airspace platforms for low altitude flight. He has also served in both research and engineering management roles at several aerospace companies, including Magellan Aerospace Winnipeg.
 
The NSERC Chair in Design Engineering for Sustainable Development and Enhanced Design Integration will be held by Dr. Marcia Friesen, currently associate professor and director of the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education, an academic centre in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba. 
 
“I congratulate Drs. Friesen and Ferguson on receiving these highly competitive chairs,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the U of M.

“Their strong records of leadership will truly take University of Manitoba’s unique research, teaching and partnerships to the next level. Their experiences in industry, government and academia, alongside their stellar research records, will create exciting research and training opportunities for students, and bolster Manitoba’s industry lead in these crucial fields.”

Canadian satellites typically involve enormous, long-term investments and have strong economic and strategic importance to all of Canada for their contribution to important activities like climate monitoring, arctic sovereignty and telecommunications. Improvements to the design, verification and manufacturing processes will reduce the investment required for satellite missions and expand the potential application of satellite technology beyond the existing high profile deployments, leading to greater innovation in both the public and private sectors.
 
Aerospace research at the U of M is multifaceted, with work in manufacturing (automation, machine/tool control, metal joining and fabrication), repair (hybrid laser welding and micro-cladding, bonding of intermetallics and superalloys), and new materials (aerospace polymer composites).
 
Aerospace engineering fits within the High Performance Materials, Structures and Processes research theme of the U of M Strategic Research Plan. Satellite engineering is an emerging area of expertise at the U of M, and efforts are currently underway to expand satellite research in order to capitalize on major investments in equipment and personnel. Over the past 10 years, there has been a steady acceleration of research collaboration between the U of M and Magellan Aerospace, which notably includes the establishment of the Advanced Satellite Integration Facility, a cleanroom facility designed to support collaborative research and manufacturing activities.
 
The NSERC Chair in Design Engineering for Sustainable Development and Enhanced Design Integration will be associated with the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education. The Centre views student learning in engineering design and in professional skills as the core technical and leadership competencies essential for their diverse future roles in the engineering profession and the community.
 
The new NSERC Chair will advance students’ design knowledge by integrating sustainable development into their courses, emphasizing the equity principles inherent in sustainable development through a focus on Indigenous Knowledge, perspectives, and design principles. Students’ design skills will be enhanced through design spines developed in each undergraduate program, building a mastery approach to design skills through a laddered series of courses. 
 
Finally, the Engineers-in-Residence program will be expanded to bring industry-based perspectives into the undergraduate curriculum, equipping students to address complex engineering design problems in professional practice.

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