It takes education for a state to develop an aerospace-intensive economy. Queretaro is aware of this and from the moment the state competed to attract Bombardier’s investments, Queretaro has focused on developing the talent needed to manufacture aerospace components.
An interview of Queretaro Aeronautic University (UNAQ’s) researchers highlights the state’s project to create a university that trains aerospace technicians and engineers and engages in R&D within Queretaro’s Technological University (UTEQ). Two years later, UNAQ became a one-of-a-kind university that focuses exclusively on aviation and aeronautics to support the development of Mexico’s aerospace capabilities.
In this edition of the Interview of the Week, MAAR presents an excerpt from its exclusive interview with Jorge Gutiérrez, Rector of UNAQ, that was originally published in Mexico Aviation and Aerospace Review 2018. Check out how UNAQ is adding value to Queretaro and Mexico as the country starts the 2.0 edition of its aerospace industry.
Q: How would you describe the evolution of Mexico’s aerospace sector?
A: During the 1920s, Mexico was able to design and build aircraft. While this capacity has been lost, the country has maintained a small, limited aerospace sector ever since. This period can be referred to as the Mexican Aerospace Industry 0.0. This lasted until the arrival of Bombardier in Queretaro in 2006, which led to drastic changes in the sector and led the Mexican government to establish public policies to encourage the industry’s growth. The introduction of this OEM can be considered the start of the Mexican Aerospace Industry 1.0. Now, we are entering the Mexican Aerospace Industry 2.0. From this point on, the goal is to generate a larger number of Mexican companies, to manufacture pieces with higher added value and to develop a strong military segment. At this point, 90 percent of aerospace companies manufacturing in Mexico are foreign.
Q: What role is UNAQ playing in the development of the local aerospace industry?
A: Our goal is to train the best workforce in Mexico, from technicians to engineers and researchers. We want to be a key player that focuses on competencies and supports the industry’s technological development. The university will become a hub for industry knowledge, programs and competencies and will support high schools and research centers. To date, the university has trained over 7,000 technicians and graduated almost 1,000 associate bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Today, UNAQ has approximately 1,400 students from across Mexico and some from outside the country. We are also creating a new master’s degree in air transport industry management.
Q: What R&D projects is the university supporting?
A: Alongside SEDENA, the university is working on technology for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and composite-based materials to shield helicopters. UNAQ has also developed simulators for pilot training alongside the Mexican Air Force and is focusing on tooling and other capabilities for manufacturers of landing gears and engines. With financing from the Mexican Space Agency (AEM), the university also participates in research of nano, micro and pico satellites, launchers and embedded systems design for navigation. Additionally, UNAQ supports entrepreneurs. One of our goals as an institution is to incubate startups. We provide technical assistance to several companies incubated in the university, some of which were created by graduates of our master’s program in engineering.
To find out more about the work of UNAQ as an academic institution and learn more about the insights of Gutiérrez and other decision makers shaping the future of aerospace in Mexico, do not miss Mexico Aerospace Forum. Register here to get your tickets!
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