Two uOttawa Faculty of Engineering alumni have been awarded a regional prize for innovation

Faculty of Engineering
Entrepreneurship
Alumni
Charles Blouin and Dominic Robillard present the innovation award
Charles Blouin (left) and Dominic Robillard (right)
Charles Blouin (BASc 2013, MASc 2016) and Dominic Robillard (BASc 2011), who cofounded Tyto Robotics, have won the Outaouais’ regional innovation prize from Quebec’s order of professional engineers. The Ordres des ingénieurs du Québec awards this prize to Quebec companies that innovate and contribute to improving quality of life.

The Gatineau company, which was founded by the two alumni, specializes in drones and electric flight. It designs and produces test stands that precisely measure the performance of electric motors used to fly drones. This high-tech firm is one of the only companies in the world to provide a way for manufacturers to measure the efficiency of their commercial or military drones. Tyto Robotics received the prize for Flight Stand 15/50, an improved version of its first test stand, making it one of the best in the world.

Charles and Dominic were completing their studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa when they started their business during an entrepreneurship course hosted by the Faculty of Engineering in 2014. Although they initially thought of building a drone, they eventually decided to make a test stand and to develop software to measure engine efficiency, which allowed them to double their flight time. Other companies then became interested in their invention.

When they first started, they received support from uOttawa’s Startup Garage, a four-month program offering mentorship, entrepreneurship workshops, and a $20,000 grant.

“Startup Garage was an excellent way to learn the basics of entrepreneurship,” said Charles Blouin. “It was a motivating environment and by the end of the program, we were ready to sell our product.”

In 2018, the Faculty of Engineering created MakerLaunch, a nine-month start-up accelerator program that provides key support to current engineering students, or recent engineering graduates, so they can launch new businesses and accelerate the commercialization of their technology. Charles is now involved in this program as a mentor to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Tyto Robotics, which currently employs a dozen people, is expanding rapidly and boasts several international clients. The company’s future seems bright: the two alumni continue to innovate by developing larger tools and offering more options to measure motor and blade performance.