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The UT-IMDI Advisory Board. First row, from left: Paul Vanderpol, Gary Ataman, Todd Young, Jean Zu (Chair, MIE) and John Hu. Second row, from left: John Coll, Marco Perrella, Kamran Behdinan (Director, UT-IMDI), Hassan Kojori, Raj Thamburaj and Ken Martin.

Whether it be designing process maps to standardize business procedures, or modelling the costs of flight delays and cancellations, students had the opportunity to explore these topics during the inaugural year of the University of Toronto Institute for Multidisciplinary Design & Innovation (UT-IMDI).

October 30 marked the official launch of the Institute, which was established earlier this year in collaboration with Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada and UTC Aerospace Systems. At the launch event, Professor Ted Sargent (ECE), Vice-Dean, Research, congratulated the institute on behalf of the Faculty.

During UT-IMDI’s first year, nine undergraduate students landed exclusive aerospace projects with industry partners, completing their design projects over the summer under the supervision of a senior engineer and a faculty member.

Once such student was Harry Zengjin Chen (MechE 1T4), who worked on maintenance programs and planning databases at Bombardier Aerospace’s area site in Toronto, Ont. “This internship was a wonderful opportunity,” said Chen. “Not only was I able to learn technical skills, but I also gained tremendous project management experience. UT-IMDI is one of the best initiatives at U of T Engineering.”

“The institute provides remarkable opportunities to expose students to a real-life project, with industry-level deliverables,” said Professor Kamran Behdinan (MIE), the Institute’s founding Director. “All projects are determined collaboratively, based on the needs of industry and building on the strengths of our curriculum, bringing design and innovation into practice.”

Echoing the enthusiasm of students and industry is Todd Young, Vice President, Customer Services and Support, Commercial Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace, and Chair of the UT-IMDI advisory board. “We have a fantastic opportunity to establish a world-class program, which will produce the most highly-trained multidisciplinary graduates, ready to launch into exciting and rewarding careers in engineering,” said Young.

“We look forward to collaborating with U of T Engineering as the institute grows,” he added.

The institute is partnering with additional companies, and over the next five years will expand to more than 70 summer projects annually. Students in all engineering disciplines will have the opportunity to select and apply, based on the project needs, through a competitive interview process.

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