Province, Boeing partner on unique aerospace research

bcgov_logoNEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Jan. 12, 2009

Ministry of Technology, Trade and Economic Development


RICHMOND – Cutting-edge research by B.C. graduate students will utilize vast quantities of data from the Boeing Company to find ways to improve aircraft efficiency and reliability, Ida Chong, Minister of Technology, Trade and Economic Development, announced today. Under a partnership funded by the Province and Boeing Canada Operations Ltd., students from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University will take part in 100 internships over the next five years with Boeing’s Richmond-based AeroInfo Systems division, using a new multi-disciplinary field called visual analytics.

“Research is a cornerstone of B.C.’s economy, which is why we’re supporting graduate students to work with industry to find innovative solutions to ongoing challenges,” said Chong, who is responsible for research. “This partnership with Boeing’s AeroInfo Systems involves the largest investment in internships from the private sector so far, and has the potential to give B.C.’s aerospace sector a competitive edge and create better travel conditions for the public worldwide.”

The graduate student internships are part of ACCELERATE BC, a four-year program supported by $10 million from the Province. It is administered by MITACS, a national research network that brings together university researchers and companies on collaborative projects. Now in its second year, ACCELERATE BC has matched more than 350 interns with B.C. businesses and organizations in the life sciences, clean technology, natural resources, energy and business services. The target of the program is 650 internships.

“This partnership through ACCELERATE BC is a great example of how university-based researchers can add tremendous value to B.C. industry,” said Jim Brookes, president of the ACCELERATE program for MITACS. “Even in these tough economic times, it makes good business sense to develop the products of tomorrow by making small investments in R&D today.”

Visual analytics combines computer science, mathematics, engineering, design and cognitive psychology. It provides an interactive visual representation of large volumes of data, sometimes unrelated, to help analysts acquire insight that will help them solve problems. Projects at AeroInfo will include aircraft safety, maintenance, engineering, manufacturing and parts management.

“We welcome this opportunity to help further British Columbia’s technological and analytical capabilities,” said Ken Goosen, president of AeroInfo Systems. “As a division of the Boeing Company, we are excited to be able to work with the universities to develop this discipline, while at the same time looking for ways to improve aircraft efficiency and reliability. We look forward to bringing visual analytics to the forefront of mainstream data analysis.”

The Province and AeroInfo Systems are each providing $750,000 for the 100 internships, for a total of $15,000 per graduate student. The federal government’s Industrial R&D Internship program is contributing another $750,000 for project management, training and travel. Internships usually last four months.

“Graduate students bring enhanced skills to B.C. industries and contribute to innovation in the tools used by all workers,” said Murray Coell, Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development. “Since students are often hired by these businesses upon graduation, internships also increase the retention of highly qualified personnel in B.C. that are so necessary for our economy.”

Since 2001, British Columbia has invested over $1.7 billion in research and innovation, which has brought in another $1 billion in research funding from other sources. Government is also funding 2,500 new graduate student spaces at the province’s four research-intensive universities by 2010, as well as providing $10 million for graduate student scholarships.



Gordon Williams
Communications Director
Ministry of Technology, Trade and Economic Development
250 952-0152
250 413-7316 (cell)

Megan Airton
Media & Communications

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