Director’s Message

“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”
Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Message


As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of UTIAS, it is appropriate to look back and recognize not only the foundation of excellence upon which UTIAS stands, but that the tradition of excellence continues.

Dr. G.N. Patterson was a highly sought-after international expert in aerodynamics when the University of Toronto made him an offer of employment. It was one of 6 or 7 offers from highly reputable institutions that Patterson was considering, but it was the offer that interested him most.

As a Canadian who had worked in Britain, Australia, and the USA, Patterson noted that aeronautical education in Canada was below par; in fact, it barely existed. Because Patterson recognized the growing importance of aeronautics, his observation germinated an idea that grew into a mission. Patterson decided he would not join U of T unless they agreed to establish a Department of Aeronautical Engineering.

With this mission in mind, Patterson looked upon the first offer from U of T as the opening of a negotiation. However, after 4 or 5 months of negotiating, Patterson was losing hope, and he began to make other plans. Then a telegram arrived stating that U of T President, Dr. Sidney Smith, would establish the new department. And with that news, Patterson accepted an offer to join U of T as head of what would become a new institute.

The rest of this story is that Patterson, with the help of many top-notch researchers, created an internationally recognized institute out of which leading edge research and many firsts have come. And the legacy of excellence lives on.

To discover the remarkable history of UTIAS accomplishments, take a journey through the timeline on our historical microsite at And to find out what is going on at UTIAS today, visit

You will soon find videos with many of our profs in the blog section of the microsite, just hit the video filter.

High school teachers who wish to arrange a tour of UTIAS for their students should contact us at 416-667-7700. If you are an undergraduate or graduate student who would like more information about our research activities, our professors would be happy to hear from you.

Graduates of our programs are highly successful in obtaining employment in the aerospace and robotics sectors and have made many significant contributions to Canada’s aerospace and robotics achievements.

UTIAS provides an excellent working environment for faculty, staff, and students. We look forward to welcoming you in person.


Prof. Chris J. Damaren,
Director of UTIAS