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August 12, 2019

Youth engage in flight simulation modules to heighten learning experiences at First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI). Photo: FNTI.

Transportation innovation: from autonomous vehicle retrofits to drone piloting

According to Transport Canada, transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada, or a quarter of Canada’s total GHG emissions. Confronted with these figures, transportation innovation is absolutely critical to minimizing Canada’s GHG emissions in line with the goals set out in the Paris Accord. As such, one of five themes of Transportation 2030, the Government of Canada’s strategic plan for the future of transportation is “green and innovative transportation.”

Transportation is more than just planes, trains, and cars; and, Transport Canada says its mandate is to “ensure Canada’s transportation systems support our ambitious economic growth and job creation agenda.”

Colleges and institutes contribute to transportation innovation by leading research projects that modernize and transform road, rail, air, and water transportation; by providing solutions to problems experienced by pilots and drivers; and ensuring that training in all fields of transportation is up-to-date, ever-evolving, and accessible to all. For example:

  • The First Peoples’ Aviation Technology program at First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) is the only Indigenous aviation post-secondary program of its kind in Canada and is delivered in partnership with Canadore College. FNTI also recently hosted its inaugural Indigenous Youth Aviation Camp to encourage younger generations to pursue careers in piloting, which is considered key to the sustainability of many Indigenous communities.
  • The Centre québecois de formation aéronautique (CQFA) at the Cégep de Chicoutimi offers more than 50 training opportunities in the aviation sector and is the only institution in Canada that offers all three fields of specialization: commercial multi-engine, bush pilot (hydro-aviation), and helicopter. For more on aviation and aerospace technologies and training, including the Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, Confederation College, BCIT, and Red River College, check out this previous issue of Perspectives.
  • Fanshawe College’s Norton Wolf School of Aviation Technology offers a Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems Commercial Operations graduate certificate that provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to design, support, operate, and maintain unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, operations. Given the potential use of drones in collecting data in rural, remote, and northern communities, Aurora College also recently began offering a 3-day intensive course in UAV operations.
  • The Institut du véhicule innovant (IVI) [Innovative Vehicle Institute] is a College Centre for the Transfer of Technology (CCTT) affiliated with the Cégep de Saint-Jérôme specializing in applied research and the development, evaluation, and implementation of innovative technologies in the transport sector. One such project involves the development of a modular-design-compatible retrofit kit capable of converting regular vehicles into autonomous vehicles.
  • Durham College is participating in the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), a community partnership designed to help SMEs develop, prototype, test, and validate transformative automotive technologies. By providing technology companies access to faculty expertise, student talent and state-of-the-art research facilities, Durham College is helping them develop autonomous vehicle capabilities in a safe and controlled environment.
  • The Railway Conductor program offered through the Rail Training Centre at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) provides highly-skilled graduates for an industry experiencing significant growth. Students are given hands-on training using real equipment covering areas such as handling of dangerous goods, railway safety, and mechanical components of rail cars.
  • The Institut technologique de maintenance industrielle (ITMI) [Industrial Maintenance Technical Institute] is a CCTT affiliated with the Cégep de Sept-Îles and, since 2013 has been home to an NSERC Industrial Research Chair specializing in rail maintenance and operations. ITMI’s research includes automated data treatment, communications protocols in northern and isolated regions, and warning systems for railway conductors to avoid risks of derailment.

As the pace of transportation innovation accelerates, colleges and institutes provide bold and innovative solutions to enhance the safety, security, efficiency, and environmental performance of transportation in Canada.

Register now for the upcoming Fall Leadership Institutes!

If you are interested in developing your leadership skills, gaining a better understanding of the trends impacting your institutions, and networking with your counterparts from across the country, don’t miss these upcoming fall institutes:

CICan’s celebrated leadership institutes draw on the latest management concepts and experience to prepare participants to successfully lead in the college and institute system.

Register now!

New Bursary: CICan Paul and Gerri Charette

We are currently accepting applications from CICan member institutions for the CICan Paul and Gerri Charette Bursary Program providing ten bursaries of up to $5,000 each! The program provides financial support to students that demonstrate financial need and face challenges or barriers to participating in and completing post-secondary education. Students attending colleges or institutes in rural, remote, or northern areas will be given preference.

CICan member colleges and institutes must collect student expressions of interest and review candidates independently before submitting an application to CICan on their behalf before September 27, 2019.

Find more information on our website.

Get paid to do applied research with the Mitacs Accelerate program

Are you a student or faculty member looking to participate in an applied research project with a company in need of your expertise?

The Mitacs Accelerate program provides opportunities for students at Canadian colleges and institutes to undertake paid internships, gaining on-the-job experiences in a non-academic setting; and helps faculty build new research partnerships with funding opportunities! The program also helps expand collaboration opportunities between colleges and institutes and private sector and not-for-profit organizations.

Don’t miss this opportunity – Apply now!

New competition! Expand social innovation at your institution through the CCSIF

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is currently accepting applications to fund projects through the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF)! CCSIF grants foster social innovation by connecting the talent, facilities, and capabilities of Canada’s colleges and institutes with the research needs of local community organizations.

Proposals should facilitate collaborative social innovation research that brings together researchers, students, and partners to address research challenges in social innovation, leading to solutions addressing a Canadian community need. Direct project costs are shared by the partner(s) and the funding agency. Projects may range from one to three years in duration.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Shine a spotlight on applied research with RE$EARCH MONEY

Showcase the incredible applied research happening at your institution in the second annual Spotlight on Applied Research booklet, bringing the important and innovative work of colleges and institutes to the attention of policy makers and other major players in Canada’s innovation ecosystem! 

We are currently looking for submissions!

Spotlight on Applied Research is an annual publication presented by RE$EARCH MONEY (R$) and CICan. The inaugural booklet, Applied Research Comes of Age was released in November 2018. For rates, ad specifications, and to submit please contact Adity Das Gupta at All material must be submitted by October 8, 2019.

We also invite submissions from businesses showcasing how college and institute applied research has helped them to innovate!

We are also looking for submissions for Applied PeR$pectives, a monthly blog series presented by R$ in partnership with CICan to showcase colleges and institutes as thought leaders in the innovation space and increase the awareness of the important role they play. Contact Adity Das Gupta for more information and submission guidelines.

Defining priorities for skills development in Canada

Following a call to stakeholders to advise on national and regional skills development and training priorities as part of the newly appointed Future Skills Council, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, pleased to share the results of preliminary engagement.

Council members, including CICan President and CEO Denise Amyot and Dr. Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald, President of Holland College, engaged almost 400 individuals from over 150 organizations to gather perspectives from across private, public, and non-profit sectors. Preliminary outreach identified seven opportunities and potential challenges.

The Council’s full Summary of Preliminary Engagement can be viewed here.

The Council will use the items identified through public engagement to inform the development of its Strategic Plan, which will serve as a call to action to all actors in the skills development system to help Canadians develop the skills they need to thrive in a changing labour market.

Join ESDC’s new Social Innovation Advisory Council

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is launching a Call for Applications for a Social Innovation Advisory Council and is inviting leaders from across social purpose sectors, including the community, cooperative, philanthropic, financial and research sectors, to apply by September 2nd.

Will the goal of making real progress towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the Council will help advance and oversee the implementation of Canada’s Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy, providing strategic advice and social innovation subject matter expertise.

The Advisory Council will be composed of 12 to 15 members who are external to government and have extensive knowledge of social innovation, social finance, or social procurement practices and are representative of Canada’s diversity.

Click here for more information on the Council and application criteria.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that, starting in October, the Cégep de Saint-Félicien will be offering a new program in hotel and restaurant management with a sustainable development perspective? The program will be developed in partnership with three local businesses Le Tournant 3F, l’Auberge la Diligence, and le Motel Chute des Pères, incorporating work-integrated learning for students, and designed with a forward-facing, environmentally responsible outlook.


Lambton College welcomed several new members of its senior leadership team. Karsten Henriksen joined the college as the new Vice President Academic. With many years of experience in post-secondary, Henriksen most recently served as Vice President of Nunavut Arctic College. The college also welcomed Spencer Dickson to the role of Vice President Finance & Administration. Having joined the college in 2009, Dickson has held various positions, including most recently Vice President Corporate Performance & Employee Relations. Lambton was also pleased to announce that its current Vice President Student Success & Campus Services, Rob Kardas, will take on a new title as Vice President Student Services & Community Engagement.

Collège Boréal was also pleased to appoint Gilles Marchildon as the first director of its Toronto campus. Marchildon is a community leader who has held key positions in many public institutions in the fields of health, education and culture.


CICan Indigenous Education Symposium

Register now for CICan’s upcoming Indigenous Education Symposium in Saskatoon, SK.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.