June 5, 2001


Passion for “designing things” leads to MIT

Ever since he was a boy building model dump trucks in his dad’s workshop, Curran Crawford has always wanted to “design things…to find different ways to solve problems.”

Now that he’s completed his mechanical engineering degree there’ll be outstanding opportunities to build on his natural abilities: in the fall he begins work on his master’s degree in computational fluid dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has a teacher’s assistant position that will cover his tuition and accommodation while being exposed to the leading-edge aerospace labs of the venerable research school.

Crawford, a graduate of St. Michael’s University School, has also earned the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering Medal for his academic performance at UVic.

Attracted to UVic by its co-op education program (and the fact he could live at home and save some money), Crawford counts as a highlight his aerodynamics work term with the Portuguese Air Force Academy at a base just outside of Lisbon. The connection came through UVic mechanical engineering professor Dr. Afzal Suleman who completed part of his formal training in Portugal.

One day last year in an upper-level design course, Suleman came to Crawford with a problem. “He said, ‘I want a fish.’” No, it wouldn’t require a trip to the seafood counter. What Suleman had in mind was a robotic fish, built to mimic the swimming motion of the natural variety. The freshly coined term is “biomimetics.”

Crawford came up with a design and built a prototype that is in the process of being tested. Eventually, several dozen of the robot fish could be used for biological research (See The Ring, Feb. 2, 2001).

With technology racing forward and pilot-less aircraft among the latest advances, Crawford says his future interests lie with aerodynamics and aerospace theory. “After MIT, I’d like to get some industry experience with a company like Boeing or a smaller firm. And teaching at the university level appeals to me too.”

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