Unmanned Systems Canada Awards Presented with Membership Audience at Annual Conference

The Awards Ceremony was the high point of the closing day at the 14th annual Unmanned Systems Conference held in Edmonton AB late last week. The occasion honored 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.  The votes have been cast and the judge’s decisions are in.

The Organizational Award recognizes a group or organization for contributing to the remarkable growth and prominence of the industry. It was presented jointly to Centre d’excellence sur les drones – CED, Ville d’Alma QC and The Foremost Unmanned Aircraft Systems Range in Alberta.

Foremost AB, and Alma QC are building new opportunities for their communities by being established as the first UAS test ranges in Canada expressly capable of supporting Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) testing. Both Foremost and Alma developed industrial clusters around access to airspace and expertise. Their vision and hard work have established facilities that will be open to business for the benefit of the global UAS industry.


Charles Vidal of Unmanned Systems Canada presented the Organizational Award to Ken Kultgen, Mayor of Foremost AB and to Marc Moffatt, directeur général du Centre d’excellence sur les drones  – CED, Alma QC. Mark Aruja, Chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada, congratulated the joint winners for their vision and hard work to support the global UAS industry.

Pip Rudkin Individual Achievement Award –   Pip, who passed away last year, was a former Chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada who steered the organization through its formative years.  He will always be remembered as a leader, colleague, mentor and friend to so many. The winner, Declan Sweeney, exemplifies the spirit of Pip’s contributions to USC-STC.

Declan Sweeney of Vancouver BC, is an entrepreneur and visionary who has played a key role in the development of the UAV industry in Canada. As an entrepreneur he was a founding director in 2002 and subsequently CEO of Universal Wing Geophysics, a company which developed UAS systems for the very challenging mining market. These complex R&D efforts resulted in the development of several specialized payloads integrated with a UAV specifically designed to handle the difficult flight profiles required for mining survey. He also served on the main Working Group with Transport Canada to develop new regulations and standards for the safe operation of UAS. Declan’s latest venture in 2016 is co-founder of Drone Fair, a two-day exhibition program intended to ‘celebrate drone technology’ in a fun and educational environment. He has shared the knowledge he has gained through his own entrepreneurial activities with colleagues nationally and beyond.


Declan Sweeney (left) is receives the Pip Rudkin Individual Award from Dr. Siu O’Young, USC Board Member, who shared the UAS vision with Pip many years ago.  Mark Aruja, Chair of Unmanned Systems Canada, congratulated Declan on behalf of the USC membership.

Marc Cuss 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. The $2500 prize was awarded to Charles Alexis Carrier from the University of Sherbrooke. Charles Alexis has a passion for UAS demonstrated by his own design that flies off the water.  He is also a member of the award-winning student VAMUdeS  UAS team that participates in the Unmanned Systems Canada student UAS Competition.


Charles Alexis Carrier (left) was presented the Marc Cuss Scholarship by John Molberg of Lockheed Martin.  John, a fellow classmate and friend of Marc Cuss, gave a moving tribute that captured the gifted visionary who continues to inspire young engineers.

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 conference. The prize is a complimentary trip to an international Unmanned Vehicle show. With three outstanding finalists, the judges have awarded First Prize to Geoffrey Fink of the University of Alberta. Geoffrey presented his work on Visual – Inertial Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM): Applications to UAVs.


Geoffrey Fink of the University of Alberta receives the Student Papers Award from Dr. Frédérique Pivot, USC Board Member and a competition judge.

3-student-papers-winners Salman Shafi (left) of Carleton University earned third place, and  Julian Li-Chi-Ming (right) in second place, join winner Geoffrey Fink as the 2016 Student Papers award recipients.                    Niel Zeller

Salman Shafi (left) of Carleton University earned third place, and Julian Li-Chi-Ming (right) of York University in second place,  join winner Geoffrey Fink as the 2016 Student Papers award recipients. 

Congratulations!  Unmanned Systems Canada is proud to recognize these richly deserving winners.

 Photo Credit: Neil Zeller, Calgary AB


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