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Student Paper Competition

2024 Aerial Evolution Association of Canada Student Paper Competition

Each year, Aerial Evolution Association of Canada hosts the Student Paper competition. This award is given to university and college student participants to acknowledge their contribution to the drone systems field and to encourage strong academic excellence.

This is an exciting opportunity for students to gain exposure for their original and innovative work and interact with the rest of the Canadian aerial community while competing for recognition and prizes.

This year, we transitioned the Student Paper competition to a fully virtual format, enabling participation from students across Canada without imposing any financial burden associated with traveling.

Stages of the competition

Stage 1: Paper submission

Stage 2: Virtual paper presentation to the committee, followed by a virtual Q&A session.


A single prize and certificate of recognition will be awarded to the most outstanding research/technical paper, sponsored by the scientific journal Drone Systems and Applications(DSA). The winning student will receive a registration, travel and accommodation allowance to attend the 2024 AEAC Conference & Exhibition to present their paper and receive their award, as well as a full waiver of the article processing charge (APC; $1000 value) to publish their paper open-access in DSA, if accepted following the journal’s peer-review process. In addition, up to two runner-up papers may be offered a 50% APC discount, if deemed by the competition committee to be of sufficient quality for potential publication in DSA.

How to Enter

Students who wish to enter the 2024 Student Paper competition must specifically indicate their intent to compete, and send the paper (max 8,000 words) and bio (max 250 words) to [email protected].  

Paper formatting

Please note that you are required to format your paper in accordance with DSA’s instructions to authors prior to submitting it to the Student Paper Competition committee for evaluation (paper formatting guidelines can be found here As per the types of papers published by the journal, please carefully consider whether your paper would be most appropriately presented as a short ‘note’ (maximum 3000 words) or a full-length ‘research article’ (maximum 8000 words). You are generally encouraged to strive to make your paper as concise as possible, and certainly any paper presenting data or results that are preliminary in nature should be prepared as a ‘note’.

As an additional incentive, the Student Paper Competition committee, upon evaluating your paper, will provide you with feedback specifically aimed at increasing the chances that your paper will receive favourable peer-review upon submission to DSA; essentially some tips to further improve your paper prior to submitting it to the journal.

Competition Timelines 

  • Competition Opens:                                 15th April 2024
  • Paper submission deadline:                   1st July 2024
  • Notification of finalist presenters:         15th August 2024
  • Virtual Presentation to the committee:  First week of September (TBD)
  • Winner Announcement:                            1st Oct 2024 (Social Media)
  • Award presentation (conference):          6th – 8th Nov 2024

Drone Systems and Applications Journal Paper Submission

  • Paper Feedback and comments                 15th Dec 2024
    • The winner and up to 2 runners-up will receive guidance and recommendations from the competition committee to improve their paper(s) prior to submission to DSA; essentially some tips aimed at increasing the chances of favourable peer-review, and ultimately of acceptance for publication.
  • Deadline for submission of Paper to DSA   1st Feb 2025

About the journal

Drone Systems and Applications (formerly the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems) is a gold open-access peer-reviewed journal that plays a crucial role in supporting student publications. It provides an inclusive platform for researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders in the drone vehicle systems field to share their research and perspectives. With a focus on engineering, applications, and societal aspects, the journal covers a broad range of topics related to or involving drones.

The journal was launched in December 2013 by Canadian Science Publishing, with support from the Aerial Evolution Association of Canada. The journal has been instrumental in advancing knowledge and promoting student publishing opportunities in this rapidly evolving field.

About AEAC

The Aerial Evolution Association of Canada (AEAC) stands as Canada’s premier national industry association, dedicated to propelling the commercial drone and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) technology sector forward. With a rich history spanning two decades, AEAC, formerly known as Unmanned Vehicle Systems Canada and Unmanned Systems Canada, has steadfastly supported the RPAS industry both domestically and globally.

Aerial Evolution Canada, its leadership and members are at the forefront of Canada’s RPAS technology sector, advocating for a future where innovation and sustainability converge. Join our mission to cultivate a commercial drone industry that prioritizes environmental stewardship, safety, inclusive job growth, technological innovation, and economic prosperity.

Join AEAC today to help champion the integration of commercial drone technology across all industries, leading to innovation, global competitiveness, and economic growth nationwide to secure Canada’s position as a global leader in aerospace innovation and sustainability.

Student UAS Competition

Aerial Evolution Association of Canada is pleased to announce the annual Student UAS Competition.

Hop on and buckle up!  Your instructions to passengers as we take off in a different direction this year.   A Big City would like to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of downtown passenger transit, and requests bids to develop and demonstrate an Urban Air Mobility System (UAMS) sub-scale prototype. University and college teams from across Canada, are invited as industry Bidders, to create concepts, design a UAM System, and compete in a sub-scale assessment of their designs and participate in head-to-head flight assessments. Their Phase 1 ‘design papers’ will be in the form of Proposals in response to the Big City RFP.


Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship

In December 2006, a young, gifted unmanned vehicles engineer working with CDL Systems named Mark Cuss passed away after a courageous 22-month battle with cancer. At the time of his death, Mark was only 27 years old. However, during his short time Mark made significant accomplishments both in his personal life and in his professional life.

The Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship has been set up to:

  • Honour the memory of Mark Cuss by encouraging the interest
    of those in the field of unmanned vehicles and furthering
    future innovations.
  • Help those interested in unmanned vehicle technology reduce
    the financial burden of post-secondary education.
  • Encourage and facilitate students to develop and communicate
    concepts related to unmanned systems technology.

Important Dates for 2024

  • The deadline for students to apply is 1st July 2024
  • The Aerial Evolution Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship winner will be informed by 1st Oct 2024, and will receive a $5,000 cash contribution.
  • All applicants to the Mark Cuss Scholarship will receive the discounted student rate.


In December 2006, a young, gifted unmanned vehicles engineer working with CDL Systems named Mark Cuss passed away after a courageous 22-month battle with cancer. Mark applied the same work ethic he demonstrated on the farm he grew up on to his schoolwork, especially in the math and science courses for which he had a particular aptitude. During his short time Mark made significant accomplishments both in his personal life and in his professional life.

For his final project, Mark joined a team that developed, tested, and demonstrated a fuzzy logic control system for an unmanned tractor. Combined with rudimentary obstacle avoidance, his project won the top prize in the 2000 DeVry Project Expo which was commercialized.

Scholarship Application Requirements
To qualify as an applicant, students must:

  • Be registered full-time in a post-secondary Canadian institution
  • Provide proof of academic accomplishment in the previous school year by maintaining a minimum of 75% average (or 85% average if the previous year was from a high school/secondary school)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the unmanned systems industry by writing an essay describing their ‘vision for the unmanned systems industry’ (details, below)

To apply for the scholarship, applicants must:

  • Submit the Scholarship Application Form by the application deadline.
  • Submit transcripts of the previous school year from a recognized Canadian high school/secondary school, university, college, or at a DeVry Institute located within Canada to [email protected] by the application deadline.
  • Submit proof of enrollment in a recognized Canadian University, college, or any DeVry Institute within Canada to [email protected] by the application deadline.
  • Submit an essay on any unmanned systems-related topic outlining their ‘Vision for the unmanned systems industry’ to [email protected]
  •  by the application deadline. Essays have no minimum length but cannot exceed 3000 words.

Student Awards Selection Process 

All applications will be reviewed and considered by the Awards and Honors Committee appointed by the Board of Aerial Evolution Association of Canada. The evaluation process shall treat academic marks and the essay with equal weight to determine the successful applicant.

To apply for the Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship, please fill in the application form and supply all supporting documents to the Awards and Honors Committee at:   [email protected]