Aerospace students eager to fly

Aerospace engineering students (left to right) Nicholas Ogrodnik, Jathunath Thiyagalingam, Lambros Fernandes, Allister D’Silva and Indira Mukasheva are part of a new co-op program between Carleton, Ottawa Aviation Services and B-Con Engineering. They will have the chance to get a pilot’s license along with an aerospace engineering degree. (James Park Photo)

A new co-op partnership will allow a handful Carleton aerospace engineering students to obtain a pilot’s licence – the first opportunity of its kind in Canada.

“This opportunity to gain a pilot’s licence will only further my engineering career and open doors into the aviation field,” says Jathunath Thiyagalingam, a second-year aerospace student at Carleton.

The initiative between Carleton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Ottawa Aviation Services and B-Con Engineering Inc. selects 15 students for a co-op placement at OAS, with seven openings available to Carleton aerospace students. Participants graduate with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering and obtain either a commercial or private pilot’s licence.

“In this partnership, we are making history,” says Joan Williams, chair of the board of OAS. “We’re making pilots who are engineers and engineers who are pilots.”

Optics manufacturing company B-Con Engineering will provide the displays for the inside of the flight simulator planes. While most flight simulators use two or three flat screens to display an image of what the pilot would see, the company will equip the simulators with spherical-projected displays. This technology allows for the projection of images onto curved surfaces, such as the canopy of an aircraft cockpit.

“The technology that we have is going to allow us to make a simulator where the visual system is what the student actually sees when he looks through the cockpit window,” says Brian Creber, president of B-Con. “The student won’t be able to tell if he is sitting out on the runway at the Ottawa Airport or whether he is in the simulation room.”

The expanded range of motion provided by the spherical-projected displays will also train students to handle in-flight emergency situations. The technology will first be used by Carleton students in the OAS Kanata simulator and then applied to the Carleton University Simulator Project (CUSP) before making its way to the industry for commercial uses.

This partnership will not only produce well-rounded engineers but also some of the world’s best pilots, according Metin Yaras, chair of Carleton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“Having the aerospace engineer being trained as a pilot makes sure that as the engineer develops the technology, he or she keeps in mind that ultimately the pilot will be flying the plane. Our students have been trained to be ready for this.”

From the theoretical knowledge acquired in the classroom, to the practical experience gained at OAS and through B-Con’s simulator technology, first-year aerospace student Nick Ogrodnik says the initiative will give graduates “the leading edge in the aviation industry.”

“We know how the planes work, we can understand how the planes are developed and designed, and it’s going to be a lot easier for us to improve upon those designs.”

The students are thrilled to be a part of the co-op new initiative but more than anything, they say they are eager to work with the planes.

“I’m very excited about flying. It’s going to be the best part,” says Ogrodnik.

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