Students from Lassonde head to Canadian Space Agency to design and build satellite

As part of the Canadian CubeSat Project, PhD student Chonggang Du, master’s student Vidushi Jain and David Dobrzanski, a fourth-year undergraduate student from the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, visited the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from May 6 to 10 to take part in training workshops to learn about designing a miniature satellite, known as a CubeSat.

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Professor John Moores, announced as York Research Chair in Space Exploration

York University announces nine York Research Chair appointments

Nine emerging and established researchers across the University will join the York Research Chairs (YRC) program, York University’s internal counterpart to the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, which recognizes outstanding researchers. The newly appointed YRCs belong to the sixth cohort of researchers to be appointed since the establishment of the program in 2015. The new YRC’s terms start July 1.

Rhonda L. Lenton

“Our new YRCs are leading scholars and mentors in their fields,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York is committed to ensuring that our research, scholarship and creative activities are of the highest quality and connected to the needs of the communities we serve. The YRC program is central to that commitment, and we are proud to support the ongoing excellence of our outstanding researchers through this initiative.”

This program, launched by Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché, seeks to build research recognition and capacity, with excellence in research, scholarship and associated creative activity serving as selection criteria.

Robert Haché

“The YRC program mirrors the federal CRC program, to broaden and deepen the impact of research chairs at York in building and intensifying world-renowned research across the institution. These new YRCs are undertaking visionary work that has local, national and international impact,” said Haché.

Tier I YRCs are open to established research leaders at the rank of full professor. Tier II YRCs are aimed at emerging research leaders within 15 years of their first academic appointment. Both have five-year terms that are renewable in the context of open competition, based on peer review and the continuing availability of resources.


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Third-year Geomatics student, Victoria Donko, wins new AOLS award in honour of Henriette Verhoef

A third-year geomatics engineering student from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering is the first recipient of the newest student award from the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS) – the AOLS Educational Foundation Henriette Verhoef Award.

Victoria Donko

Victoria Donko was announced the winner during a luncheon event with AOLS and Lassonde in March.

The award is named after Henriette Verhoef, who followed in her father’s footsteps and was licensed in August 1997 as one of very few female land surveyors in Ontario. The award aims to recognize a student who embodies the supportive and fervent nature Verhoef was known for within the surveying community.

Like Verhoef, Donko grew up in a family of surveyors. Her grandfather Vladimir Krcmar, her mother and her two uncles are all professional surveyors. During the summer months, Donko worked part-time in her family’s survey office, which exposed her to the day-to-day life of a surveyor. Over time, survey plans piqued her interest, particularly historical survey plans of Toronto.

After high school, Donko decided to continue the family legacy and accepted an offer from the Lassonde School of Engineering’s geomatics program.

In addition to focusing on academics, Donko is the sole female member of the Lassonde Geomatics Club and takes every opportunity she can to encourage female peers to learn more about engineering and consider a post-secondary education in geomatics.

“This award is special because it makes me feel respected in my field of study,” said Donko. “I would love to bring awareness to the importance of women as land surveyors, and this AOLS award lets other young women know about opportunities in the field of geomatics.”

AOLS has been a longtime partner and supporter of the Lassonde School of Engineering and its students, and it provides the highest number of student awards; it offers nine awards in total and recognizes 14 students each year.

“In our pursuit of building a diverse and inclusive school, it is so important to provide support and recognition to deserving students, especially those historically underrepresented in the fields of engineering and science,” said Jane Goodyer, dean, Lassonde School of Engineering. “Awards like this one are crucial to achieving that and we are honoured to have the AOLS’s continued support.”

About Henriette Verhoef

Verhoef died in October 2017, and soon after a group of her colleagues from the Northwestern Regional Group of Ontario Land Surveyors sought to establish an AOLS award in her honour.

Of the namesake award, Verhoef’s sister, Monique Ibey, says her notoriously humble sister would have been bashful, but grateful.

“Henri was not one to draw attention to herself, but she would have been thrilled to know she was supporting other women entering the field of surveying. She was the type of person who would have made the time to help and mentor a young student or professional in any way she could.”

The AOLS Educational Foundation Henriette Verhoef Award marks the ninth annual award given out by AOLS.

Learn more about the AOLS here.

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Lassonde Professor opens new lab focused on Autonomous systems research

Jinjun Shan, Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth & Space Science at the Lassonde School of Engineering, is among one of the researchers across Canada to earn a prestigious Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant and Ontario Research Fund grant to pursue groundbreaking research that focuses on autonomous systems.

Injun Jordan Abel

                Jinjun Shan

Shan is the principal investigator on this research project with Costas Armenakis, associate professor of geomatics engineering at Lassonde, serving as co-investigator.

With this grant, Shan has opened a lab facility in the Petrie Building at the Keele Campus, which is the first of its kind at York University, to serve as a critical platform for emerging research on co-operative control of multi-agent systems. The facility is geared to be an experimental platform for collaboration between academia and industry. It will bring more revenue to the Canadian autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUV) industry. This in turn will create more job opportunities for Canadians in addition to providing additional study opportunities for students.

“With this infrastructure, we can advance key technologies in cooperative control of multi-agent systems, particularly in navigation and control system design,” said Shan. “This advancement is made possible only through this world-class infrastructure, since it will provide a unique way to validate the effectiveness of the developed technologies.”

          Costas Armenakis

AUVs have a growing number of potential applications for Canada in civilian, military and security areas. For example, defence patrol duties, agricultural activities, forest fire monitoring and control, grid monitoring, border control, search, surveillance and rescue. Canada’s large uninhabited land, large forest are, and longest international border in the world can also greatly benefit from AUVs.

“This lab will serve as the foundation for the application-oriented research we are planning to undertake, which includes high-resolution, real-time navigation and collaborative mobile mapping,” said Shan.

The CFI funding supports the world-class infrastructure to be built to enable research on autonomous systems, unmanned vehicles, artificial intelligence and more. It builds a unique facility in the Canadian university environment that will serve as a critical platform for emerging research on co-operative control of autonomous systems and their applications, including remote sensing and mapping.

“There are similar labs at other Canadian universities, though these institutions lack the required combination of autonomous vehicles and available test-beds for candidates to carry out the research programs effectively,” explained Shan.

To learn more, see the Aug. 16, 2017 YFile story.

Lassonde Professor contributes to new book ‘Unmanned Vehicle Systems for Geomatics’

York University geomatics engineering Professor Costas Armenakis adds textbook editor and author to his resumé with the release of the book Unmanned Vehicle Systems for Geomatics: Towards Robotic Mapping.

Along with Petros Patias, Armenakis contributed as a co-editor and chapter author to the text, published by Whittles Publishing.

The book contributes to the transformative and revolutionary use of small, unmanned vehicle systems for 3D geospatial data acquisition and mapping, which is considered to be a paradigm shift in the science and technology of geomatics.

The text provides a breadth of knowledge on the subject, including:

  • a systematic and comprehensive approach for the use of small, mobile unmanned systems for robotic geomatics research and applications;
  • the state-of-the-art use of low-cost unmanned vehicle systems, with emphasis on the unmanned aerial systems for geomatics technologies and practices; and
  • the most recent developments in methods, systems and innovative applications.

To order a copy, visit the Whittles Publishing website or contact the publisher directly at

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Megan Gran, Space Engineering Student, Fly a Rocket ! program

Megan Gran, Space Engineering student in the Lassonde School of Engineering, launching her dreams in April. Gran is one of 24 students in the world who has been selected to participate in the Fly a Rocket! program offered by the European Space Agency at the Andøya Space Center in Norway.

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FAST funding – Three Lassonde Professors

The Canadian Space Agency’s Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) funding initiative supports space research in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

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Internship Opportunity for ESSE Students

We are pleased to announce exciting “Part Time Surveyor Assistant Internship opportunity with Jay Dee Canada” on the  “North Tunnel Constructors ‐ Coxwell Bypass Tunnel Project” in Toronto, Ontario.  For more info, click here

Faculty Job Openings in Lassonde

Assistant Professor of Space Engineering

The Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering (ESSE) invites applications for a tenure-stream position at the Assistant Professor level in the field of Space Engineering. For more info, click here

Lassonde School of Engineering, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Engineering
The Lassonde School of Engineering, York University seeks to identify and nominate an excellent woman researcher for a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Engineering. For more info, click here

Dr. John Moores, ESSE Professor, elected to RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

Lassonde School of Engineering Professor John Moores, has been named a member of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Dr. John Moores,  is an internationally recognized planetary scientist and space engineer whose research explores the atmospheres and surfaces of other worlds. His research group has been a member of the science and operations teams of four ESA and NASA space missions to Mars and Titan and has been awarded the NASA group achievement award on 16 occasions. In this work, he has published 55 papers garnering more than 4,000 citations.

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Congratulations, John !!