Centennial College’s aerospace program is taking off

$26-million government grant helps Ashtonbee program join other schools in Downsview Park cluster

The Aerospace program at Centennial College is departing from Scarborough’s Ashtonbee location and is set to land at Downsview Park.

Talks about this move started four years ago, says Alan McClelland, dean of the college’s school of transportation.

The aerospace department at Centennial College Ashtonbee campus.
The aerospace department at Centennial College Ashtonbee campus. (Bernard Toney // Scarborough Observer)

The college started to work with other schools like the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace studies and Ryerson University.

“We looked at what the needs were and how we could better work together,” he said. “As the discussion progressed, the concept of an aerospace cluster then came together.”

Dean McClelland said they have also teamed up with Bombardier, whose location at Downsview Park would help the school.

“That became the logical location for this cluster,” he said. “It would be a combination of research facilities, as well as a combined college and university campus.”

Dean Alan McClelland (Left) and Chairperson Traci K. Brittain (Right) at the school of Transportation.
Dean Alan McClelland (left) and Chairperson Traci K. Brittain at the school of Transportation. (Edited1)

Program chairperson Traci K. Brittain said the short voyage will help with student enrolments.

“Currently at the Ashtonbee facility we are at our maximum capacity,” she said, “With the aviation industry growing there was recognition that we needed to bring in more students, but also the need to service the global aviation community.”

Brittain said they will be adding more classes and programs at the future Downsview campus.

“We’re going to increase the size of the program for maintenance and avionics,” she said. “We’re also looking at putting in new programs in the future such as composite structures which will be a brand new program in itself.”

The program is also excited about being closer to an active runway, which will make it easier to receive materials for training.

One of many working are crafts that the students enrolled in the aerospace program get to work on.
One of many working aircrafts the students enrolled in the aerospace program get to work on. (Bernard Toney // Scarborough Observer)

“Here at Ashtonbee, in order to get certain kinds of training aids they have to be disassembled and brought through the city,” Brittan said. “An airport site … benefits the students because of the aviation community around them.”

All these changes wouldn’t have been possible if not for $26 million the provincial government put toward the aerospace program.

“The government is excited,” Dean McClelland said. “If you go to the website and have a look at their press release … they see the ability to invest in skills that lead to employment.”

The exact date of the move is still unknown, but Dean McClelland is targeting 2015 to have the new facility open and functional.

“We’re still finalizing our plans,” he said. “There are some details we are working out, so as it stands right now we haven’t got a firm timeline.”