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 USC-STC supports students in 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 CompetitionReview 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’d welcome your support!  Email [email protected] today! 

Unmanned Systems Student Development Initiatives

1. USC-STC Student Discounts

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

Students also qualify for the best discount rate to attend every 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 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 in USC News, articles on, email outreaches to colleges and universities, and social media posts.

Typical Student Competition Scenarios

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  May 25 – 26,  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 Newsto 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

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 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-sTC 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.

Questions can be directed to [email protected]

Find out More

4. USC-STC National Student Paper Competitions

Our Student Paper Competitions are 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-STC 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 receives: 

  • A free one-year USC-STC Association membership
  • Feature articles in USC News,
  • An invitation 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] 

5. Support Canada’s Best & Brightest Students with Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsors are key source of revenue for USC-STC to offset student entry fees, accommodation costs, and cover some of the administrative and marketing costs for our organizing Committees. Donations, in-kind contributions and volunteers raise awareness of these events and our broader Student Initiatives. 

For example, over 20 sponsors supported 2018 USC-STC Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Student Competition that 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…and partners from the RCMP were excellent ‘advisors’ this year!

The UAS Student scenario ‘briefing’ on May 4th was 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 one of next year’s Competitions? Email [email protected] to get volunteer info & sponsorship opportunities. Come support Canada’s best and brightest students in STEM through these world-class events!

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