WISA Design Competition: Designing the Flight School of the Future

Design Competition Winners

Team & Submission:

1st Place

 Aileron Consulting Group (video)

2nd Place

Stack Effect  (video)

3rd Place

2FH Design (video)


How can a flight school become a beacon of sustainable innovation in aviation? This design competition asks students to reimagine the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC) facility, one of the largest flight training units in Canada, as a model of social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Our jury is seeking inspirational ideas, exciting designs, and new directions towards a more sustainable future for the air transport training sector.  This competition aims to spark a holistic rethinking of the aviation training sector as hubs for green innovation. And you can be part of it!


Eligibility Rules

Entrants mustbe residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) who are post-secondary students at a recognized university or college. Multi-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged but not required. All interested participants must register here.

All rules and regulations can be found here.

License and Terms of Use

Entrant Release Form

Team Submission Form


January 17, 2022

Competition Launch

May 9, 2022 

Submission Deadline

May 27, 2022 

Top 3 Designs Announced

June 24, 2022 

Top 3 Presentations & Winners Announced



Sponsored by:

1st Prize: $5,000

4AIR & Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre

2nd Prize: $2,500

ALSIM Flight Training Solutions

3rd Prize: $1,500

4AIR & Region of Waterloo International Airport 

The Brief:

Entrants are asked to incorporate the following design considerations:

The design calls for two (2) detached buildings:

  • A two-storey high institutional building (“Main Building”) with a gross floor area of 3,000 m2. The Main Building should support current and future operations of WWFC which includes an administrative office space for 30 administrative employees, hotelling office space for 60 flight instructors,  flexible teaching space to provide four 30-seat classrooms, a 120-seat amphitheater, a flight dispatch area, four flight simulator bays (25m2 each), an inspiring student space, a bookstore, storage, food service or restaurant and building service areas.
  • A hangar (“Hangar”), with a gross floor area of 1500 m2 about 700 m2 of which should be conditioned space for aircraft maintenance.

The overall design needs to meet net-zero energy and carbon neutral performance targets taking into account the local climate. These targets can be met through the integration of:

  • High performance envelope, passive strategies and sustainable materials.
  • Active strategies and technologies (e.g., LED lighting, air- and/or ground source heat pumps), and energy efficiency measures.
  • Rooftop photovoltaic and/or building-integrated photovoltaic.
  • Integration of electric charging stations and electric storage for electric vehicles (EV) and electric aircraft (EA) is highly encouraged.  

To support sustainability in aeronautics, consider a transferable and scalable design, using existing construction practices, that could be replicated by other aviation schools across Canada or internationally. In addition, economic sustainability should be considered in regards to long term operation.

There is no specific site, but the assumed site would need to accommodate aviation infrastructure, including the Main Building, the Hangar,  groundside access and vehicle parking, apron for  35  flight training aircraft, fueling facilities and airside connections to the airport taxiway network.

Successful designs should also consider the safe and efficient movement of flight training aircraft, practicality of operations (e.g., hangar access, logically planned aircraft parking, etc.), and constraints as a result of the facility’s obligations as a Transport Canada-certified airport.

  • For building performance analysis, the following  meteorological weather file can be used, found here.
  • Learn more about WWFC here.

Submission Requirements:

Competition proposals can be submitted here. The submission page will open to all entrants on May 1st, 2022 at 12AM EST and will close on May 9th, 2022 at 11:59PM EST. An email reminder will be sent out to all registered entrants.

Submissions must conform to the instructions provided below:

Entrants are asked to provide a zip file containing a submission document of maximum 15 pages (tabloid or A3 size in pdf format) which includes high resolution visuals (min. 300 dpi) and descriptive text. The submission document should highlight the main design features of the project in a concise and comprehensive way, and explain how the design enhances sustainability (social, environmental and economic) and supports the typical functions of a flight school.

In addition, entrants must sign a Declaration and Release form agreeing to all rules & regulations.

The first round of presentations will be hosted virtually, second round participants will receive an invitation to the WISA Annual General Meeting (with an option of submitting a recorded presentation depending on travel restrictions).

Submission Details:

  • Submission Details (Design Overview):
    • Title page of project (1 page maximum), including:
      • Title
      • High-level description outlining how your proposal meets the provided criteria as well as key innovations (max. 500 words). 
      • Names of team members, preferred pronouns, university or professional affiliations.
    • Design proposal (15 pages maximum), including:
      • Written overview of design concept
      • Image 1: Conceptual site plan to scale that shows how the entire site is organized and the two buildings are integrated to facilitate flight school operations. A graphic scale must be provided. Suggested metric site plan scales include: 1:500, 1:1000 or 1:2000.
      • Image 2: A 3D rendering of the Main Building 
      • Image 3: A 3D rendering of the Hangar
      • Image 4 & 5: Main Building plans to scale. A graphic scale must be provided. Suggested metric building plan scales include: 1:150 or 1:200.
      • Up to 5 additional images: Elevations, sections, details, perspectives, or conceptual drawings of key features or systems of the overall design. Inlcudegraphic scales or key dimensions where appropriate.
    • Optional Media
      • Up to 2 90-second max high-res video (.mp4) that further illustrates design; up to 2 GIFs that illustrate or support design.

Please register to receive additional supporting materials, including a recording link of our Info Session held on March 2nd.

Scoring Criteria:

Design – Design concepts should incorporate functionality, sustainability and aesthetic appeal. A transferable and scalable design that could be replicated by other aviation schools across Canada is an asset.


Sustainability – Design concepts should prioritize social, environmental, and economic sustainability in materials, building technologies and techniques. The jury is seeking a model of a sustainable flight school that could be replicated across Canada. The design needs to meet net-zero energy and carbon neutral performance targets.


Feasibility – Design concepts must take into account Canadian weather and consider practical operational aviation considerations (E.g., ease of movement from the hangar to apron and access to charging/fueling facilities, practical cost/benefit consideration of design choices).



Our jury is seeking inspirational ideas, exciting designs, and new directions towards a more sustainable future for the air transport sector. 

Costa Kapsis


Chair of the Jury

Costa Kapsis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Costa’s research is focused on design and operation of high performance commercial and institutional buildings, and the building-integration of solar technologies.

Greg Ballentine


A graduate of the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning, Greg Ballentine is a Senior Aviation Planner with Avia NG.  With backgrounds in planning and architecture, his 35+ years of aviation experience includes the preparation of airport master plans, land use plans and the planning and design of airport facilities including passenger terminals, air cargo facilities and hangars.

Terri Boake

Terri Boake

Professor Boake teaches in the School of Architecture and in Architectural Engineering at the University of Waterloo. She has a long history of championing sustainable design in curriculum development and teaching with a focus on the benefits of climate responsive passive design strategies.

Robert Connors


General Manager at Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre

Ben Crooks


Ben Crooks is an Aviation Planner with HM Aero, licensed pilot, and graduate of the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning. Ben provides airport planning and advisory consulting services to regional and community airports across Canada.

Kennedy Ricci

Kennedy Headshot-sq.jpg

Kennedy Ricci is the President of 4AIR, the first and only sustainability solutions provider dedicated to aviation. An enthusiastic pilot himself, Kennedy has combined his family history in aviation, a personal facility for technology and a commitment to giving back to founding 4AIR, focused on facilitating the decarbonization of the aviation industry. 4AIR has worked to promote a more comprehensive and long-term approach to thinking about sustainability for aviation while providing increased transparency, comparability and ease of starting sustainability programs for industry participants.

Suzanne Kearns

suzanne kearns

Suzanne Kearns is a professor in Waterloo’s aviation program and director of the newly launched Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA). Kearns’s vision is to create a sustainable future in aerospace and aviation. 

Liam O'Brien


Prof. O’Brien is a full professor for Carleton’s Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering program. His research is focused on designing and control buildings in occupant-centric ways.

Paul Parker


Paul is a sustainability researcher with a passion for low carbon aviation and a love of teaching. He brings social science expertise to a diverse set of energy and development research projects, often with engineering colleagues.

Information Session #1 | March 6, 2022

Remote video URL

Information Session #2 | April 11, 2022

Remote video URL

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