USC is proud to support Canada’s rising stars in the Unmanned Systems community!

We recognize the value of nurturing the next generation of brilliant minds and innovative talent. USC is proud to provide Canadian students of all ages access to information, connections and resources they need to succeed.

There’s more information below about the ways USC supports students in the aerial, ground and marine unmanned vehicle sector through:

  • Two national annual post-secondary student competitions 
  • An incredible discount on USC memberships and delegate passes for our annual national ‘Unmanned Canada Conference and Trade Show’
  • Opportunities showcase their work to the world! Students can submit research papers to our USC Awards Committee for:
    • USC’s Annual Student Paper Competition
    • Review for Canada’s esteemed national research publication, The Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems
  • Marc Cuss Scholarship 

Students who become USC members also enjoy other member rewards, including opportunities to join our national Unmanned Systems Industry Directory, apply for scholarships, join USC Committees, and contribute to Member Roundtables and USC Policy Submissions to Regulators. 

If you or your organization would like to step up as a community champion by sponsoring a USC Student opportunity contact [email protected]        

USC National Student Competitions

USC 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 and robotic vehicles, USC is proud to host annual competitions to nurture Canada’s rising stars and innovators.  

Each May, USC provides student teams with the opportunity to compete in  real-life scenarios. Even small-scale unmanned vehicles are complex systems requiring a well-planned design approach, teamwork and tons of testing. USC invites teams to apply to announcements in USC News, articles on, email outreaches to colleges and universities, and social media posts.

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

2.  USC challenges students to think like a company by preparing a ‘pitch’ of their team, their skills and the innovative solutions before the main event to USC Judges, sponsors and the audience. 

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.

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

The USC Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Student Competition held it’s 10th annual competition in May 2018. Students have tackled challenges from various industry sectors each year – including agriculture, mining, transportation, law enforcement, oil and gas and wildlife monitoring scenarios.

The inaugural Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Student Competition will be held in May 2019 at the Ottawa Automated Vehicle Test Facility, so watch for updates in USC NEWS! 

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 Annual Student Competitions:

  • August & September – USC promotes competitions and invites teams to send expression of interest. USC Technical Committee sends  CONOPS (Concept of Operations) to applicants for review. 
  • November – Teams register with non refundable registration fee on USC website.  Based on Q and As collected from students, the CONOPS is routinely updated. 
  • January – Phase 1 Design Report due. Judged on innovation, design aspects, and report presentation. 

  • May Weekend Competitions – Phase 2 Operational Tests/Missions. Team presentation to ‘clients’, operational test/missions conducted to meet required tasks of the challenge, post-mission reports are compiled to be presented to Judges. Wrap-up celebration and winners announced.

Sign up for USC News to stay connected!  
To apply to compete, volunteer for a committee or support our competitions through sponsorship packages, please contact: 

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 be registered full-time in a recognized Canadian university or college. Teams may be organized internally at the discretion of their respective members.

Find out More

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 on a farm 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 is administered by Unmanned Systems Canada, and is intended to encourage and facilitate students to develop and communicate concepts related to unmanned vehicle technologies.

Each September, USC invites students to apply for the Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship. The winner is invited to the National Annual Unmanned Systems Canada Conference and Trade Show to be awarded a cash prize of $2,500. 


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.

Qustions can be directed to [email protected]

Find out More

USC Student Papers Competition

The USC Student Papers Competition is open to all Canadian undergraduate and graduate students at a recognized university or college who are registered in full-time studies at the time of submission. Abstracts are requested on research into, or the use of, any aspect related to Unmanned Vehicle systems. 

Those students whose abstracts are rated in the top three of all submissions, as decided by the USC Technical Paper Selection Committee, will be invited to submit full papers to be judged and presented at the National Annual Unmanned Systems Canada Annual Conference each year.  ‘Unmanned Canada 2017’ was held in Toronto, ON from November 1-3 and the 16th Annual ‘Unmanned Canada’ will be held in Vancouver, BC from October 30-November 1. 

The experience at the Unmanned Systems Canada conference is invaluable for the students as they interact with the Canadian unmanned vehicle systems (UVS) 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 is rewarded with a free membership to Unmanned Systems Canada, is featured in  USC News, and is invited to the next Unmanned Canada conference to help  represent the Canadian unmanned systems student community.

Abstracts up to 500 words can be submitted to the Call For Presentations each year through the Unmanned Canada conference registration page each year or emailed to [email protected]

 Find out More

Student UAS Competitions – Sponsor the Best & Brightest

The 2018 USC Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Student Competition simulated a real-life crime scene investigation with a twist… using a drone to fly in a simulated Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) exercise!  The competition at Southport, Manitoba attracted 14 teams from across Canada to showcase their teamwork and technology.

The scenario – a ‘briefing’ on May 4th provided by local RCMP! 

Law enforcement has been called to the scene of a suspected bike gang operation in a remote farm building.  They believe that the building contains several gang members, a large supply of drugs and weapons, and is defended.  Officers are reluctant to approach the house, which has no protected avenue of approach, without a good understanding of the threat.  Your UAS “company” has been called to support the operation.  

Within a limited time, teams are required to complete these tasks, outlined in the full ConOps (Concept of Operations) documents:

  • Conduct surveillance of the property (house, yard, garage, etc.)
  • Deliver a remote listening device to a location on the property. based on results of the surveillance
  • Search a large area adjacent to the property for vital pieces of evidence.
  • Report back to the ‘law enforcement client’ 

Do you want to be involved in next year’s Competitions? Sponsorship opportunities to support the best and brightest in this world-class event are available… see the sponsorship brochure

email [email protected] to get on our contact list.