The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics’ (WISA’s) Research-for-Impact (RFI) funds were awarded to University of Waterloo research teams to catalyze the research ecosystem across campus associated with aviation and aerospace sustainability. All RFI projects will be conducted in coordination with industry and/or government partners, with work spanning throughout 2023 until March 2024.

The RFI program was made possible with Government of Canada support, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), as part of the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (ARRI). More than $4 million was allocated to RFI projects, with additional funds put towards equipment associated with the Innovation Hub in partnership with the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre and the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

Eighty-four proposals were submitted with research teams representing all six faculties at the University of Waterloo. A scientific committee of 14 academic and industry leaders adjudicated proposals and identified the projects with greatest potential for innovation and impact.

A total of 38 projects received financial support.

Pillars of Research

These research projects align with one of the pillars of social, environmental, and/or economic sustainability (or the interconnections between the pillars). Sample research themes presented include:

Social Sustainability

  • Assessment, development, and maintenance of physical and mental health, competency, and diversity within the aviation & aerospace workforce,
  • Training innovations, skill biomarkers, proficiency, expertise, skill certification, and retention,
  • Simulator technologies, e-planes, VR/AR, intelligent tutoring tools,
  • Reduction of training and employment barriers faced by historically underrepresented groups.

Environmental Sustainability

  • Development, assessment, and integration of green technologies, policies, and practices,
  • Regional airport infrastructure needs (hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel, solar hangar/electric plane microgrid, and regional networks of electric chargers for e-planes),
  • Low carbon performance and global competitiveness of pilot training (electric planes, hydrogen propulsion, hybrid-electric, and microgrids).

Economic Sustainability

  • Optimizing operations and intelligent aviation systems (e.g., cybersecurity, physics and structure modelling, aircraft system simulations, digital twin, AI/ML, modelling of propulsion, noise, de-icing systems, and biometrics for aviation security),
  • Remotely piloted aircraft, ‘next-gen’ aircraft, and autonomous flight,
  • Advanced manufacturing.

Projects Awarded: Distribution by PI Faculty

Research Projects

Project Title Principal Investigator (PI)  Co-applicants PI Faculty Sustainability Pillar (Social, Environmental, Economic)
3D Printing of high strength thermally stable sustainable nanocomposites for aerospace applications Shirley Tang - Faculty of Science ENV & ECON
A Multiobjective Simulation-Optimization Approach with Reliability Constraints for Collaborative Airport Resource Allocation of Disruption Management Kumaraswamy Ponnambalam Lisa Aultman-Hall Faculty of Engineering SOC, ENV & ECON
Accurate and Provably Stable Coupling for Fluid Structure Interaction Problems David Del Rey Fernandez - Faculty of Math ENV & ECON
Active Learning in Aviation Evan Risko Patrick Craven, Laura Bianchi Faculty of Arts SOC
Additive manufacturing of economically-sustainable high-strength aluminium alloys for high-performance aerospace applications Mihaela Vlasea - Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Advanced sensor development for air recirculation in sustainable-aircraft cabins Kevin Musselman - Faculty of Engineering SOC, ENV & ECON
Aerospace Instrumentation through 3D Printing of Advanced Sensors on Mission-Critical Aerospace Components for Environmental Sustainability Ehsan Toyserkani Michael Pope Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Anomaly Detection in Battery Packs of Airport Electric Vehicles Using Digital Twins Sagar Naik - Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Anti-corrosion surface treatment of metallic bipolar plates to enable hydrogen fuel cells for electric aviation applications Xianguo Li XiaoYu Wu Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Creating a digital twin for Sustainable Airport Facilities and Landscapes Science Derek Robinson Rebecca Saari, Bruce MacVicar, Peter Deadman, Robert Feick, Michelle Rutty Faculty of Environment SOC & ENV
Data platform and information technologies transforming general aviation pilot training Shi Cao Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo, Elizabeth Irving, John Munoz Faculty of Engineering SOC
Data-efficient Learning of Aircraft Dynamics for Simulated Flight Testing Vijay Ganesh Yash Vardhan Pant, Kenneth Hui Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Demonstration of environmentally sustainable Ti-alloy and scale-up binder jetting metal additive manufacturing process for fabrication of aircraft components Mihaela Vlasea - Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Development and implementation of non-intrusive eye tracking technology in a flight simulator: Building a robust collection and analytics pipeline Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo Andrew Duchowski Faculty of Health SOC
Development of a combined computer vision and machine learning system for pilot fatigue management Ben Thompson Otman Basir, Anoop TR, Robert Hess Faculty of Science SOC & ECON
Development of a Simulation Environment for the Assessment of Urban Air Mobility Vehicles: Energy Efficiency, Noise, and Icing Fue-Sang Lien Eugene Yee, David Orchard, Chun (Lucy) Li Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Development of an Intercity Long-Distance Travel Origin Destination Matrix for Canada Lisa Aultman-Hall - Faculty of Engineering ENV
Efficient Shape Optimization of Gas Turbines for Green Aviation Hans De Sterck David Del Rey Fernandez, Hessame Babaee Faculty of Math ENV & ECON
Electric Planes: Optimizing Battery Operation and Designing Airport Microgrids Claudio Canizares Mehrdad Kazerani, Paul Parker, Mehrdad Pirnia, Bob Connors, Matt Scheben Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Human Factors Evaluation of Mixed Reality Command and Control Interfaces for Fleet Operations of Unmanned Aircraft Shi Cao - Faculty of Engineering ECON
Immersive, Intelligent, and Personalized Pilot Training Jian Zhao Shi Cao Faculty of Math SOC
In-flight infrasonic detection of clear-air turbulence Jean-Pierre Hickey Michael Waite Faculty of Engineering SOC, ENV & ECON
Machine learning-driven integrated computational tools to support virtual certification of ultra-lightweight composite structures for next-generation zero-emission aircraft John Montesano Michael Worswick, Lucy Li, Frank Henning Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Model supporting environmental scan and gap analysis of codes and standards related to hydrogen applications in aerospace John Wen Zekai Hong, Nabiha Chaumeix Faculty of Engineering SOC, ENV & ECON
Moving towards competency-based training in aviation: Investigating the utility of eye tracking in the assessment of situation awareness Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo Andrew Duchowski, Elizabeth Irving, Shi Cao Faculty of Health SOC
Multi-quadcopters Coordination for Long-term Environmental Monitoring Gennaro Notomista Roberto Guglielmi, Derek Robinson Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Novel Noise and Vibrations Insulation Solutions for Aircraft Produced by Additive Manufacturing to Improve Flight Ergonomics Armaghan Salehian Mihaela Vlasea, Nima Maftoon Faculty of Engineering SOC & ECON
Predicting drag degradation in-flight due to icing-related surface modifications Jean-Pierre Hickey Ali Benmeddour, Leonid Nichman, Keyvan Ranjbar Faculty of Engineering ENV & ECON
Provably Stable and Positivity Preserving High-Order Methods for Ice Accretion Problems David Del Rey Fernandez - Faculty of Math ENV & ECON
Risk assessment and mitigation strategies for using solar photovoltaic installation in aerodromes Costa Kapsis Derek Robinson Faculty of Engineering SOC & ENV
Route-based Market Analysis of Emission Reduction Strategies for Sustainable Aviation: AI Optimization of Sustainable Aviation Fuels Allocation, Tourism Markets, and Electrification Daniel Scott Mehrdad Pirnia, Juan Moreno-Cruz, Stefan Gössling, Nicole Cocolas Faculty of Environment SOC, ENV & ECON
Solar Hangars: A key component to Zero Carbon Flight Operations and Airport Microgrids Paul Parker Costa Kapsis, David Mather, Bob Connors Faculty of Environment ENV & ECON
Sustainability Potential in Air Cargo Markets Clarence Woudsma Chris Bachmann Faculty of Environment ENV & ECON
System for Motion Capture of Virtual Flight Training Michael Barnett-Cowan - Faculty of Health SOC, ENV & ECON
Techno-economic Assessment of Captured CO2 to Aviation Fuel Eric Croiset - Faculty of Engineering ENV
The Connection between Sustainability Ratings and Financial Performance in the Aviation Industry Olaf Weber - Faculty of Environment SOC, ENV & ECON
Transforming the Flight Training Industry to Advance International Competitive Standards and Achieve Low Carbon Performance Peter Deadman Mehrdad Pirnia, Bob Connors, David Mather Faculty of Environment SOC & ENV
Vision, gaze, stress and pilot performance Elizabeth Irving Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo, Shi Cao Faculty of Science SOC