USC-STC is proud to support Canada’s rising stars in the Unmanned Systems / Remotely-Piloted Vehicle community!

As Canada’s national industry organization representing the aerial, ground and marine vehicle sector, we recognize the value of nurturing the next generation of brilliant minds and innovative talent.

Unmanned Systems Canada / Systèmes Télécommandés Canada (USC-STC) is proud to provide Canadian students of all ages access to information, connections and resources they need to succeed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers that are critical to industry growth & competitiveness.

Scroll down to learn more about five ways that USC-STC supports students in the aerial, ground and marine unmanned vehicle sectors by: 

  • Hosting two national annual student competitions for post-secondary students
  • Offering Student Discounts – we discount USC-STC Association membership fees to only $50/year and offer significant discounts on student delegate passes for our annual national ‘Unmanned Canada Conference and Trade Show’
  • Showcasing student’s work to the world! Students can submit research papers to our Awards Committee for:
    • USC-STC Annual Student Paper Competition and review for publication in one of our association partners, The Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Canada’s esteemed national research publication.
  • Awarding the $2500 Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship

Can you or your organization step up as a community champion? 
Get involved and lead by example! Contact us to learn more about volunteering on our USC-STC Student Committees, sponsoring one of our USC-STC Student Competitions, helping to increase engagement with post-secondary institutions, and/or create a new USC-STC Award category. We welcome all support!  Email [email protected] today! 

USC-STC Student Initiatives

1. Student Discounts and Benefits

Students are encouraged to join USC-STC to get all of our association member rewards. Key benefits of membership:

  • Get listed on Canada’s national Unmanned Systems Industry Directory – so employers and research can find you
  • Apply for scholarships – to reduce those tuition costs and student loans
  • Join USC-STC Committees – build your resume and connect with our Directors, academia and other industry champions
  • Contribute to Member Roundtables and USC-STC Policy Submissions to Regulators – get heard and provide your insights. 

The current USC-STC Student Membership rate is only $50. Join here!

Student Members always qualify for the best discounted rates to attend USC-STC events, such as our Annual National Unmanned Systems Canada Conference and Trade Show. It’s our way to support students to make valuable connections to potential employers, research partners, suppliers, and experts from across Canada.

2. USC-STC National Student Competitions

USC-STC hosts two national Student Competitions with the goal to:
“promote and develop Canadian expertise and experience in unmanned systems technologies at the university and college levels.’

As more government, community and industry organizations recognize the economic, social and environmental benefits of drones, remotely piloted and robotic vehicles, USC-STC is proud to host annual competitions that nurture Canada’s rising stars and innovators.  

Each May, USC-STC provides student teams with the opportunity to compete in real-life scenarios to put their brains – and drones – to good use! Even small-scale unmanned vehicles are complex systems requiring a well-planned design approach, teamwork and tons of testing.

USC-STC invites teams to apply to compete each year announcements through USC News, website and social posts, and direct outreach to universities and colleges. Email our Student Competition Committee at [email protected] for more about participating and sponsorship opportunities.

Typical Student Competition Scenarios

1. As in any other vehicle design project, safety considerations and technical aspects are important factors in our competitions. Teams need to submit a design paper for Competition Judges to review before they’re approved to compete. But don’t worry, Judges also provide feedback and guidance to encourage learning and improve your chances of success!

2.  USC-STC challenges students to think like a company by preparing a ‘pitch’ about their team, their skills and the innovative solutions they’ll provide to address the scenario. Company pitches are presented – and graded – before the main event to the Judges, sponsors and audience at each Competition. 

3. Teams have limited time to complete each practical challenge. Scenarios might include locating or moving objects, gathering pictures or videos, navigating around obstacles, or completing calculations…details are given well in advance each year in the  CONOPS V3 – 4 Nov 19 document.

4. Marks are also awarded for teams’ ‘post-challenge’ analysis. Students have a limited amount of time to compile a report for their customers (the USC-STC Competition Judges) with their results and a team self-assessment.  

The Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Student Competition held our 11th Annual competition in May 2019 in Alma, QC. Students tackled challenges from various industry sectors each year – including agriculture, mining, transportation, law enforcement, oil and gas and wildlife monitoring scenarios…and last year’s team completed inspections of solar panels. Learn more about last year’s challenge and the winning teams in our May 2019 Press Release.

The inaugural National Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Student Competition was held May 25 and 26, 2019 at the Ottawa L5 Automated Vehicle Test Facility. Learn about our first-ever National UGV Student Competition here and the Awards

Our competitions are designed and judged by a dedicated group of Unmanned Systems Canada volunteers and supported by local volunteers and industry sponsors.

General Timelines for USC-STC Annual Student Competitions:

  • August & September – USC-STC promotes competitions and invites teams to send expression of interest. Competition Committees sends the CONOPS (Concept of Operations) to colleges, universities, and past participants for review. 
  • November – Teams register and pay Competition fees. Based on Q & A’s collected from students, the CONOPS is routinely updated via the [email protected] list. 
  • January – Phase 1 Design Papers are due. Papers are judged on innovation, design aspects, and report presentation. 
  • May Weekend Competitions – Phase 2 Operational Tests/Missions. Three components of the weekend competitions include: Team presentations to ‘clients’, operational test/missions conducted to meet required tasks of the challenges, and post-mission reports are compiled then presented to Judges, followed by a wrap-up celebration and announcement of winners for each component.
  • Winners Recognition – Competition winners are announced each year at the Awards Ceremony at the Annual National Unmanned Canada Conference and Trade Show along with USC-STC Organizational Awards, Student Paper Competition winners and Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Sign up for USC News to stay connected!  
To apply to compete, volunteer for a committee or support our competitions through sponsorship packages, please email [email protected] to join our contact list or our Competition Committee leads:

Charles Vidal, Unmanned Aerial Systems Competition (UAS) Coordinator, at [email protected]

Barrie Kirk, Unmanned Ground Vehicle Competition (UGV) Coordinator, at [email protected]

Competitor Eligibility

Competitors for both the UAS (Aerial) and UGV (Ground) Student Competitions must be registered full-time in a recognized Canadian university or college. Teams may be organized internally at the discretion of their respective members. Email [email protected] for Competition details and sponsorship opportunities.

Find out More

3. The Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship  

In December 2006 at the age of 27, a gifted unmanned vehicle engineer named Mark Cuss, passed away after a courageous 22-month battle with cancer. Mark applied a strong work ethic and curiosity from his life growing up on a farm in Spy Hill, SK to become an award-winning student at the DeVry Institute in Calgary. After graduation, he became a leader at CDL Systems, where he worked until he passed away. During his short time, Mark made significant accomplishments both in his personal and professional life.

In response to the untimely death of this talented young engineer, a scholarship fund has been established in Mark’s memory. The Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship administered by USC-STC; it is intended to reduce the financial burden for post-secondary students and facilitate their studies to develop and communicate concepts related to unmanned vehicle systems technologies.

Each summer, USC-STC reminds our community about the Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship and invites students to apply before the August 31st submission deadline. The Scholarship Committee reviews all applications then selects the winner to be awarded a cash prize of $2,500. Winners are also recognized each year at the USC-STC National Unmanned Systems Canada Conference and Trade Show Awards Ceremony.

Scholarship Eligibility

Undergraduate studies at any recognized Canadian University or DeVry Institute located within Canada are encouraged to apply. The key components to qualify require the applicant to have an average of 75% and demonstrate an understanding of the unmanned systems industry by writing a brief paper describing their vision. Learn more about Mark Cuss, the USC-STC Scholarship created to honour his memory, and the application process at the link below.

Find out More

Questions about the Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship and new scholarship opportunities can be directed to [email protected]


4. USC-STC National Student Paper Competitions

Our Student Paper Competitions are open to all Canadian undergraduate and graduate students currently registered in full-time studies at a recognized university or college at the time of submission. Abstracts are requested for students’ research into, or the use of, any aspect related to unmanned, remotely piloted and robotic vehicle systems. 

Those students whose abstracts are rated in the top three of all submissions (as decided by the USC-STC Technical Paper Selection Committee) are invited to submit full papers to be judged and presented at the National Annual Unmanned Systems Canada Conference and Trade Show each year.  Unmanned Canada 2018 was held in Vancouver, BC from October 30 to November 1 and Unmanned Canada heads to Ottawa, ON from October 30 to November 1 this year.
Learn more about this years event at our dedicated website: UC19Ottawa.

Student experiences at Unmanned Canada conferences are invaluable as they interact with presenters, regulators, investors and exhibitors from across the unmanned, remotely piloted and robotic vehicle systems community. They are able to understand how their research resonates with practitioners, connect to potential employers, and learn from other students, conference presenters and exhibitors. 

In addition to the conference experience, the winning student receives: 

  • A free one-year USC-STC Association membership
  • Recognition by social media, blog updates and a feature article in USC-STC News
  • An invitation and discounted rate to attend and present at each National Unmanned Canada Conference and Trade Show.

Abstracts up to 500 words can be submitted to the ‘Call For Student Presentations’ announced each year in USC-STC News, on our website and vial social media posts. Submissions can be emailed to [email protected].


5. Sponsorship Opportunities:
Help Support Canada’s Best & Brightest Students!

Sponsors are key source of revenue that enable our USC-STC Student Committees to offset student entry fees, accommodation costs, and cover some of the administrative and marketing costs. Sponsors are recognized in pre-event marketing materials, on our website and social media posts, on all on-site signage and by thank you messages from event organizers. Often students who benefit from the Scholarships, Awards and Student Competitions do their own social media posts and thank you messages by email, too!

All in-kind contributions and volunteers for Committees are greatly appreciated to raise awareness of these events and our broader student initiatives. For example, our annual USC-STC Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Student Competition has a strong network 20-30 sponsors each year – but it has taken over a decade of events (and a lot of volunteer hours) to build that foundation of support.

Help us to extend our impact and reach to support and inspire more students in the drone world and STEM careers – contact our Committee Leads directly for more information:

Charles Vidal, USC-STC Unmanned Aerial Systems Competition (UAS) Coordinator, at [email protected]

Barrie Kirk, USC-STC Unmanned Ground Vehicle Competition (UGV) Coordinator, at [email protected]

Frédérique Pivot, Awards and Scholarship Coordinator, at [email protected]