Unmanned Systems Canada 2017 Awards Presentation

The highlight on the closing day of Unmanned Canada 2017 Toronto was the Unmanned Systems Canada / Systémes Telécommandés Canada (USC-STC)  Awards presentation.  The occasion honoured outstanding contributions made by individuals, organizations and students who display vision, hard work and dedication to the unmanned systems sector. Many deserving members were nominated in 2017.  Af ter the votes were cast, the judges’ decisions were announced:

The USC-STC Organisational Award recognizes a group or organization for contributing to the remarkable growth and prominence of the industry. It was presented to Konsberg Geospatial.

In 1992, Gallium Software was established in Ottawa, and rapidly became a world leader in developing visualization systems for mission-critical defence and air traffic control systems. Their Intermaphics product became widely used by leading companies world-wide for the development of human-machine interfaces for visualization. In 2006 the company was bought by Kongsberg, a Norwegian company, improving the companies global reach and technology depth. Leveraging its understanding of air traffic control and defence command and control Kongsberg Gallium projected the future challenges of UAS operations in Beyond Visual Line of Sight, ironically developing a solution to a technology gap in visualization.

A successful rebranding in 2016 to Kongsberg Geospatial, their BVLOS visualization product is now attracting market attention worldwide. Most recently they were awarded a Canadian government contract for their IRIS product, a first step in the development of Unmanned Traffic Management capabilities in Canada. Kongsberg Geospatial is awarded the USC-STC 2017 Award for organizational excellence for turning their vision into reality – and for providing tools that enable our industry to keep moving forward!

USC-TSC Board member Charles Vidal, presented the USC-STC Organizational Award to Page Cutland (R) of Kongsberg Geospatial.  USC-STC Chair Mark Aruja (L) congratulated the company on their BVLOS visualization.

Pip Rudkin Individual Achievement Award is presented to a community champion in honour of a former Chairman of USC-STC and industry visionary, Pip Rudkin, who passed away in 2015. Pip steered the organization through its formative years and will always be remembered by many of us as a leader, colleague, mentor and friend.

The 2016 Pip Rudkin Individual Achievement Award winner is Karen Tarr, who exemplifies the spirit of Pip’s contributions to USC-STC.

A bush pilot and a helicopter pilot, Karen brought a common, thorough, and educated approach to the emerging field of UAVs. As the focal point for the industry with Transport Canada for over 20 years, she faced incredible internal resistance to moving the UAV file forward in an organization dedicated to manned aviation (only). It is a testament to her perseverance and dedication that has seen Canada continue to lead the global UAV industry. Karen’s quiet way of managing and leading the many meetings that have resulted in the current and future Canadian regulations was a marvel to watch. Her keen and dry sense of humour made her a real pleasure to work alongside. Karen, as a Canadian leader for the unmanned aviation sector, is an ideal choice for the Pip Rudkin award for individual achievement.  In Karen’s absence, Siu O’Young, a long time friend and colleague of Pip Rudkin, accepted the award on Karen’s behalf.


USC-STC board member Derek Scott (Centre) presented The Pip Ridkin Individual Achievement Award to Karen Tarr of Transport Canada.  Dr. Siu O’Young (R), who shared the UAS vision with Pip many years ago, accepted on behalf of Karen Tarr. USC-STC Chair, Mark Aruja, honoured Karen’s dedication to advancing UAV regulations at Transport Canada. 

Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship – In December 2006, at the age of 27, a gifted unmanned vehicles engineer named Mark Cuss, passed away after a courageous 22-month battle with cancer. A scholarship fund has been established in his memory, to encourage and facilitate students to develop and communicate concepts related to unmanned vehicle technology.

This year’s Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship and its $2500 prize was awarded to Kate Kienapple from Simon Fraser University. Kate an accomplished commercial pilot with a passion for teaching has also trained 500 drone pilots.  While continuing her aviation career as the Director for Operations at Coastal Drone Company, she is completing a Masters of Management of Technology at SFU. Her tireless dedication to the future of  UAVs personifies Mark’s vision, innovation and resilience.

USC-STC board member Derek Scott presented the Mark Cuss Scholarship to Kate Kienapple, a UAV pilot instructor and Masters Student at Simon Fraser University. 

The USC-STC Student Papers Competition is open to all Canadian undergraduate and graduate students registered in full-time studies. The papers demonstrate research into, or the use of, any aspect related to Unmanned Vehicle systems. The top three submissions present at the annual ‘Unmanned Canada’ conference. The prize is a complimentary trip to an international unmanned systems event. The three outstanding finalists were presented Awards this year in Toronto by the USC–STC Awards Committee chair, Dr. Frederique Pivot.


 Joshua Furtado of University of Toronto achieved first prize for his work on 3-D path planning for UAV’s. 

Memorial University’s Bruno Artacho earned the 2nd prize with his paper on UAS collision risk assessment. 

Third prize winner, Jingui Liu, from Queen’s University, employs UHR UAV imagery to distinguish wild parsnip from similar vegetation. 

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Awards candidates and winners! We are proud to recognize your contributions to advancing unmanned systems in research, business, policy development this year. You are very deserving of your rewards.  richly deserving winners – and we look forward to your continued success.

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