Thursday, September 06, 2018

2018 Listing of 50+ Academic Facilities Contributing to Canadian Space Expertise

Although the private sector contributes the majority of domestic research and development funding for Canada's aerospace sector, government funding in this area is often tied to academia through research grants.
From "The Relationship Diremption," the twentieth episode of the seventh season of the American sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," which often makes interesting observations on the motivations of scientists and academics. This episode originally aired on Thursday, April 10th, 2014. Graphic c/o Big Bang Theory Wiki.

It's worth noting that, while overall academic R&D funding was boosted substancially in the 2018 Federal budget, funding for the hard sciences may be drying-up over the next few years, due to increased political concerns over its usefulness to the domestic economy.  

After all, with up to half of all graduating space scientists and aerospace engineers needing to leave the country to find their first job after graduation, there is some reasonable concern that the investment made in their schooling may not be recouped if graduates don't pay Canadian taxes or contribute their expertise to the Canadian economy.
Current Canadian Space Agency (CSA) academic initiatives are focused around the Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP) which, as outlined in the May 7th, 2018 post, "Canadian Cubesat Project Finally Moving Forward," is a professor led initiative funding fifteen cubesat and space focused proposals from Canadian based post-secondary institutions.  
Of course, and as outlined both below and on the CSA web page focused on the quarterly "Disclosure of grants and contributions awards," the CCP is certainly not the only active CSA academic initiative.
The CCP also bears more than a passing resemblance in structure and goals to the private sector Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) a lower cost, student led initiative which, as outlined in the November 30th, 2017 post, "Update on the 2017 Canadian Satellite Design Challenge," has been attemping to perform much the same function as the CCP since 2011.
Below is a partial listing of the more noteworthy academic institutions with connections to the space and aerospace industry.

The Aurora College Aurora Research Institute (ARI) - This research centre in Inuvik was created by what was then known as the Federal government department of Indian and Northern Affairs in 1964 to provide support for scientific research in the North West Territories (NWT) and Northern Yukon.
The ARI contribution to the CCP is the AuroraSat project, the creation of a "globally interactive game for amateur radio operators" and the cultivation of northern voices in indigenous languages.

Academic partners include the University of Alberta, the University of Alberta North, Nunavut Arctic College, Yukon College. Government collaborators on the AuroraSat project include the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure, a department of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
The List of Canada's Top 50 Research Colleges - An annual listing of Canada's top research colleges tracked by amounts allocated and areas of expertise.
It's best read in conjunction with the list of Canada's Top 50 Research Universities and the list of Canada's Top 100 Corporate R&D Spenders
Taken together, those three lists put a lie to the common Canadian perception that most domestic research and development (R&D) is funded by academics through universities.
In fact, the majority of Canadian R&D activities are funded through the private sector. Public sector and academic R&D initiatives are typically tied (via granting agencies such as the National Research Council) to ongoing private sector initiatives, in order to maximize their effectiveness and the public relations benefits for the granting organizations.
The data from the three lists is compiled annually by Toronto ON based Research Infosource. The 2018 lists are expected to be released later this fall.
The Canadian Universities Website - A useful overview of academic expertise in this area covering universities and colleges from "Canada's higher education and career guide."
Of particular note is the listing of Space Science Scholarships in Canada. Other academic sectors can also be accessed from the search page.
Canadore College - Ex-Federal conservative MP Jay Aspin's plans to turn this sleepy community college into an "international high tech business hub" ran aground with the 2015 Federal election (which threw the ruling conservatives out of office) and the 2016 bankruptcy of a key partner, the Payerne, Switzerland based Swiss Space Systems (SSS).
As outlined in the January 24th, 2017 post, "Swiss Court Confirms Swiss Space Systems Bankruptcy But CEO Jaussi Might Buy Assets and Start Over," the centerpiece of that plan was an attempt to launch a "mini-space shuttle" from the Jack Garland Airport in North Bay, ON.
Maybe one day, the good times will return. 
Carleton University - The university Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is the home of the Carleton Mechanical and Aerospace Society (CMAS) and the CU3SAT micro-satellite project, which competed in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC).
The Carleton Aerospace faculty is one of the largest and the most comprehensive academic aerospace research programs in Canada with a wide range of unique, state-of-the-art research facilities. 
Concordia University - Home of the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation (CIADI), which promotes "awareness and provide leading edge know-how among engineering students engaged in aerospace design and innovation."
Concordia is also home to Space Concordia, a team of engineering students which competed in the CSDC (they won in 2012) and proposed the Concordia Hyperspectral Imager and Radiation-Tolerant Satellite (CHIRad-Sat) as their contribution to the current CCP program. 
CHIRad-Sat will test an imaging instrument to collect data on dust measurements and study the effect of climate change in the Kluane Lake region plus evaluate the viability of a new electronic component for future cubesats.
Academic collaborators include the L'Institut polytechnique de Grenoble and Université de Montréal. Industry collaborators include Kalray S.A., MDA, Mission Control Space Services MPB Communications and the Spectrum Aerospace. Governmental/NGO collaborators include Let's Talk Science, a national, charitable organization focused on education and outreach to support youth development.
Dalhousie University - Home of the Dalhousie University CubeSat (DUCS), one of the East coast contributions to the CCP.
DUCS will test a new cubesat frame made out of lightweight metal alloys and validate the use of innovative onboard solar energy and battery storage technology to power a stabilization wheel to better control the position of the satellite's instruments. 
Industry collaborators include IMP Aerospace and Xeos Technologies.
Laurentian University – In partnership with Science North, Laurentian offers the comprehensive Science Communication graduate program, which covers "the theory underlying good communication as well as the practical challenges of effectively communicating science and the issues involving science in society."

McGill University - Home of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law, focused on "training aviation and space focused lawyers to serve throughout the world."
McGill is also home to the Centre for Research in Air & Space Law, which acts as a research arm for the Institute of Air and Space Law.
The faculty maintains close relationships with the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum Committee on Air and Space Law, organizes conference on the topic and publishes the Annals of Space Law Journal.
McMaster University - This Hamilton ON based public university entry in the CCP program is the McMaster NEUDOSE cubesat mission, which is designed to measure the amount of radiation to which astronauts could be exposed during spacewalks.
The NEUDOSE academic collaborator is Mohawk College. The industry collaborator is Bubble Technology Industries and the government/NGO collaborator on the program is the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. 
Memorial University of Newfoundland - The St. John's, NL based public university entry in the CCP program is the Killick-1, a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) reflectometry cubesat for measuring sea ice thickness and extent.
The academic collaborator is the University of Prince Edward Island and the industry collaborator is C-CORE.
The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics- A basic research centre dedicated to "exploring the world around us at its most fundamental level."
The institute supports over 80 resident researchers and a vigorous visitor program of cross-disciplinary research in condensed matter, cosmology & gravitation, particle physics, quantum foundations, quantum gravity, quantum information theory, superstring theory and other related areas.
Polytechnics Canada - The "voice of leading research-intensive, publicly funded colleges and institutes of technology."
The organization is a strong advocate for moving at least some of the government money focused on R&D out of universities and into community colleges and trade schools. 
Queens University - Home of the annual student run Queen's Space Conference (QSC), aimed at connecting university student-delegates with leading professionals in the space industry.

Royal Military College (RMC) - The Department of Space Science program at RMC offers both undergraduate and graduate programs with specialization focused around theoretical, experimental and observational aspects of space science: from space mission analysis, mission and payload design, remote sensing, satellite tracking, ionospheric physics and space weather, and astronomy and astrophysics.

Ryerson University - Possesses a well respected Engineering Graduate Program, which focuses on aerodynamics and propulsion, aerospace structures, manufacturing, avionics and aerospace systems and has some overlap in technologies, with the space industry.
The Department of Computer Sciences Graduate Studies is a hotbed of AI research and development. 
Universities Canada - The "voice of Canadian universities," at least according to their website,
It's a useful first stop when building an inventory of Canadian educational facilities focused on science, engineering, space activities or anything else. 
According to their website, the organization "advances the mission of our 96 member institutions to transform lives, strengthen communities and find solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world" by
  • Advocating for Canadian universities at the federal level
  • Providing a forum for university leaders to share ideas and address challenges in higher education
  • Supporting students by providing online information on university study and offering scholarships on behalf of private sector companies
  • Fostering collaboration among universities and governments, the private sector, communities and international partners to help build a better world
The organization also publishes the annual "Directory of Canadian Universities."
The University of Alberta - Home to both the Centre for Earth Observation Sciences (CEOS), which uses Earth observation and imaging technology to monitor environmental changes, manage resources and formulate sustainable development policies, and the Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology (ISSET), a pioneering interdisciplinary centre for planetary and space research.
The university also hosts the annual Canada-Norway Student Sounding Rocket (CaNoRock) exchange program and is home to the AlbertaSat team, which competed in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge and managed to become the only team to actually loft their Ex-Alta 1 satellite into orbit. 
As outlined in the  June 5th, 2017 CSA press release, "Successful launch of Ex-Alta 1, University of Alberta's CubeSat, from the International Space Station," the cubesat was deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) into a low Earth orbit on May 26th, 2017.
Their current contribution to the CCP program is the Ex-Alta 2 cubesat, a platform for the orbital demonstration of a digital fluxgate magnetometer designed at the University of Alberta. Ex-Alta 2 will also connect and share data with the QB50 constellation, an international network of cubesats managed by the Rhode-Saint-Genèse, Belgium based von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, using an onboard Langmuir probe and digital fluxgate magnetometer.
Academic collaborators on the project include Aurora College, the University of Calgary, the University of Iowa, the University of Oslo, the University of Saskatchewan, York University, Yukon College and the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics.
The University of British Columbia - Home of the student led UBC Orbit team which competed in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge and of Dr. Jaymie Matthews, who acts as chief scientist and principal investigator for the Microvariability & Oscillations of STars (MOST) micro-satellite.
UBC also boasts a number of of other student led, competitive aerospace focused teams, including the UBC AeroDesign team, the UBC Mars Colony team and the UBC Rocket team
The University of Calgary - Home of the Institute for Space Research, which is part of the Department of Physics and focused on space plasma, aural imaging and the analysis and modeling of those phenomena.
One of their more useful projects of note is the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (e-POP), a scientific payload for the CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE), satellite, a mission focused on telecommunications advances and solar weather research, which was funded by the CSA.
A team from the University of Calgary also competed in the 2014 Canadian Satellite Design Challenge.
The University of Guelph - Home to the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) and its Space and Advanced Life Support Agriculture program.

As outlined most recently in the August 9th, 2018 post, "Could Space Industry Funding Come From Canada's New Cannabis Industry?," the facility is generally considered to be a essential part of Canada's contributions to plant research and development for space and closed environment related activities.
The facility maintains useful connections with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and retains the strong support of NASA's Advanced Life Support (ALS) community.
The University of Manitoba -  The university is home to the Advanced Satellite Integration Facility (ASIF), a 6,000-square-foot area, large enough to accommodate up to three satellites at various stages of assembly. It includes an ISO Class 8 clean room facility to satisfy the requirements of current and future Canadian government satellite programs.
As outlined in the March 4th, 2015 UM Today article, "Partners in space, U of M and Magellan Aerospace to build satellites," the ASIF facility built the three satellite buses being used for the uncoming RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM). 
The UofM is also home to the University of Manitoba Space Applications and Technology Society (UMSATS), which competed in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge
The UofMs current contribution to the CCP is Manitoba SAT-1, which will study the composition of asteroids and the Moon.
Academic collaborators include the Interlake School Division, the University of Winnipeg and York University. The industry collaborator is Magellan Aerospace.
The University of New Brunswick - This Fredricton and St. John based university entry in the CCP program is the CubeSat NB, a project designed to provide new insights into the behaviour of Earth’s ionosphere.
CubeSat NB will receive signals transmitted by global navigation satellite systems, such as GPS, as they travel through the ionosphere and are affected by it.
Academic collaborators include the Saint John Campus of New Brunswick Community College and the University of Moncton. 
The University of Prince Edward Island - This Charlottetown based university entry in the CCP program is the SpudNik-1, a cubesat-based high-resolution imaging system for precision agriculture being developed through the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering.
Academic collaborators include Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. The industry collaborator is C-Core.
The University of Saskatchewan - Home of the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (USST), a student run organization which dominated the 2011 NASA sponsored Space Elevator Games, competed in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) and most recently participated in the 2018 University Rover Challenge.
The university is also home to the Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies (ISAS), which maintains strong Federal links to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) through its contributions to the Canadian Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imager System (OSIRIS) for the Swedish ODIN satellite, the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission, the various Canadian Geo-space Monitoring (CGSM) programs and the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC).
ISAS maintains international research connections through the Climate And Weather of the Sun-Earth System (CAWSES) program, the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) and the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) program.
The University of Saskatchewan contribution to the CCP program is IDRSat, which will study how materials degrade in space by looking at how useful construction materials are affected by extreme temperatures, radiation, and space debris in low Earth orbit, and by studying material changes in colour, texture, brittleness, and electrical conductivity. 
Academic collaborators include Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Alberta. Industry collaborators include Innocorps Research Corporation and SED Systems.
Université de SherbrookeThis Sherbrooke based university has contributed UdeSat as its entry into the CCP program. The cubesat will conduct one of the first demonstrations of a quantum sensor in space.
The academic collaborator for the project is the École nationale d'aéronautique. 
Oddly enough, and as outlined in the September 16th, 2004 Liaison post, "UdeSat I : un appareil très petit pour des usages infiniment grands," an earlier UdeSat microsat, also originating from the Université de Sherbrooke, was once tested in microgravity during parabolic flights organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) in Bordeaux, France, but never went to orbit.
The University of Toronto - Home to both the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), the first Canadian academic institution able to build low cost spacecraft, micro-satellites and nano-satellites, and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA).
As the "big boy" of academic space activities in Canada, the UTIAS-SFL collaborates with business, government and academic institutions on the development of new space technologies and strengthening the Canadian skill base in space systems engineering but has no formal contribution to the CCP.
Recent UTIAS-SFL satellites have included the Brite Constellation of micro-satellitesAISSAT-2 (a follow-on from the very successful AISSAT-1) and the Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat). The facility also has close relationships with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Bombardier, the NASA Ames Research Center, MDA and multiple foreign governments.
As well, the University of Toronto is the home of the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (last discussed in the April 3rd, 2017 post, "UofT Undergraduate Satellite Builders Raise Almost $500K to Build & Launch a Microsatellite in 2019"), the UofT Entrepreneurship Hatchery (which includes the UofT Idea Market) and the UofT Rotman School Creative Destruction Labs, which includes an AI, a quantum and a space focused start-up stream.
The University of Victoria - Home of the optical and radio calibration of atmospheric attenuation cubesat (ORCA2Sat), which is UVICs contribution to the CCP.
The cubesat will develop and test new advancements in technology to better understand “dark energy,” an enigmatic form of energy making up 75% of the universe believed to cause the universe to expand at an accelerating rate. 
Academic collaborators include Harvard University, Simon Fraser University, the Technical University of Lisbon and the University of British Columbia. The industry collaborator is Space Systems Loral and the governmental/NGO collaborator is the National Research Council.
The University of Waterloo - The home of Canada's largest engineering faculty (divided up into several different schools and research centres, most notably Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering), the university faculty has contributed to a variety of space focused projects. 
These include the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory, the VASCULAR and BP-Reg medical experiments conducted in 2012-13 aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by Commander Chris Hadfield (who joined the Waterloo faculty in 2014) and a proposed micro-satellite mission (the Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite or QEYSSat) that would demonstrate long-distance quantum key distribution from space. 
The university also hosts the Waterloo Space Society (WSS), which organizes and promotes space-related events at Waterloo and within the larger community. WSS has two active engineering sub-teams: WatSat which participated in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge and the Waterloo Rocketry Team.
Western University – Home to the Canadian Lunar Research Network (now a part of the new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute), the Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration (CPSX) and the co-host of the Canadian Astrobiology Network.
Western contains Canada's only graduate program in planetary science, with over 40 PhD and MSc students and a new undergraduate minor degree in planetary science and space exploration
The university can also boast of its role in development of the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSAT), the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the proposed 2016 ExoMars Orbiter and EDM mission, plus the proposed ExoMars 2020 mission and has a close relationships with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the NASA Ames Research CenterMacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) and multiple foreign governments. 
Western's contribution to the CCP is the Western University - Nunavut Arctic College CubeSat Project, which will conduct a flight-test with a novel imaging system for engineering technology demonstration with the potential to provide virtual reality-ready images. 
Industry collaborators include Canadensys Aerospace and MDA.
York University - Home of the Lassonde School of Engineering, which includes the department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering and the Earth and Space Science graduate program.
York scientists, engineers and students have contributed the Phoenix Scout Mission, SCISAT (the Canadian Space Agency mission to research the ozone layer), the Canadian Wind Imaging Interferometer (WINDII) on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) and the Canadian Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imager System (OSIRIS) for the Swedish ODIN satellite. York is also home of the York University Rover Team
The university contribution to CCP is the educational space science and engineering cubesat experiment (ESSENCE), which will test a Canadian-developed wide-angle camera to observe snow and ice coverage in Northern Canada. The information collected through its images could help map the thawing of Arctic ice and permafrost and give a better picture of the impacts of climate change in the region. 
Academic collaborators include ICT Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology and the University of Sydney. The industry collaborator is Canadensys Aerospace.
Yukon College - Whitehorse's contribution to the CCP is YukonSat, which will focus on promoting STEM and engaging the community through a series of initiatives,
Academic collaborators include Aurora College and the University of Alberta. The governmental/NGO collaborator is Natural Resources Canada.


Editors Note: This listing is certainly not complete. If you think some important faculty or organization has been left off the list and shouldn't have been, or if you notice an error in an existing post, then send a quick note to and we'll update the information.

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