Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Engineering Students Facing The Future

The promotional literature called it a chance to "redefine horizons" but the true purpose of the 2011 Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) Canadian Student Summit on Aerospace (CSSA) was to showcase opportunities for engineering students embarking on careers in aeronautics, avionics and space.

The two day event, an annual initiative of small groups of engineering students at various campuses across the country (with financial and logistical support provided by CASI) was held September 16th and 17th, at the Ryerson University Toronto campus.

Approximately 100 people were in attendance to listen to presentations from industry experts like LCol Luc Sabourin (the commanding officer of the Canadian Forces 1st Air Maintenance Squadron of 4th Wing at CFB Cold Lake), Dr. Jason V. Lassaline (the assistant chair of aerospace engineering at Ryerson), Edward Hoskin (the VP of the Mississauga turbofan engine plant for Pratt and Whitney Canada), Dr. Danya Hudson (the technical lead for the Quantum micro-satellite mission at COM DEV International) and others talk about their career choices.

According to Karisma Rego, the co-chair for the 2011 organizing committee, "we wanted to have a room where people actually doing the jobs we are being trained for could answer our questions about those positions and their requirements." Rego, a fourth year Ryerson engineering student, credits her success at organizing the event to the mentoring of Alex Tsoulis, the Director of Structures Design at EXMD Airframe Corporation who is also a CASI member.

2011 co-chair Navreet Saini (also a fourth year engineering student at Ryerson), echoed the sentiments. Tsoulis was the "main support base for everything we did and all we organized. He was very helpful and always available when we had questions or concerns" according to Saini.

The two had participated at previous CSSA events, most recently the 2010 Canadian Student Summit on Aerospace which was held at McGill University in Montreal.
CASI Executive Director Geoffrey Languedoc (top row) with Alexandra Blagojevic, Shruti Desai, Karisma Rego, Navreet Saini and Harita Mehta at the 2010 CSSA dinner in Montreal.
For the first time, registered attendees were also offered a plant tour of their choice to either the nearby Bombardier Aerospace or the local Pratt and Whitney Canada facilities.

But it's also worth noting that CASI corporate partners, who include companies like ABB, Bombardier, EADS Astrium, Magellan Aerospace and others might have an ulterior motive for sponsoring and encouraging events such as this.

According to Pratt & Whitney VP Edward Hoskin, approximately half of Canada's existing aerospace engineers will reach retirement age within the next 5-10 years and Canadian companies must soon begin the mad scramble to replace them.

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