Welcome to our first ever CASI Member Spotlight. In these lighthearted articles we shine the light on members who are making an impact across the country and around the globe. These members exemplify the mission and vision of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. We gladly highlight our members as part of our mandate to make it the place to foster national pride and international esteem for Canada’s accomplishments in aeronautics, space and related technologies. If you are interested in participating or nominating another member for the spotlight, please contact Danielle Tremblay at


 Austen Barnes is the CEO of Barnes Advanced Technology, Inc., and Austen Barnes Advanced Technology (1991) Inc. He is an Associate Fellow and has been a CASI member for 57 years, having joined the Institute in 1959.


What is your most memorable CASI experience so far?
One particularly memorable experience was during the discussions leading to the change from Canadian Aeronautical Institute to the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. We at the original SPAR group and the entire faculty of U of T Institute of Aerospace Studies were united in effecting acceptance of space travel as a new expanding science. Like all changes, there was severe resistance. Courageous bush pilots and WW2 survivors and the engineering teams backing aircraft development were not convinced these new arts were practical. The launch of Sputnik 1 in the mid-50’s triggered the big turnaround and in the US the formation of NASA.

What’s the highest altitude and speed you’ve reached?
Highest altitude and speed only in passenger jets to and from China.

What is the favourite moment of your career thus far?
Favorite moment was likely when we converted a 100% reject process into a 100% acceptance process.  It was written up in the technical press.

What was your childhood dream job?
As a child, my ambition was to become a mechanic.

 Guilty pleasure: what can you not live without?
A cigar, each time something new works.

Leslie Howard

Leslie Howard

Who would you like to see play the lead role if Hollywood made a movie of your life?
Leslie Howard.

What is your favourite Aero or Astro activity?
Propulsion: Engines are fascinating – and rapid thrust vector changing is so important for VTOL and in flight maneuvering as opposed to using control surfaces.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever been offered?
Read books. Learn what’s been done before. Ensure you are abreast of the state of the art.

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been yet?
Madagascar- it has one of the most varied wildlife mixtures on the planet.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

What decision in your life would you most like to change and why?
I’ve been too embroiled in engineering.  Used copies of my self-published book “Conquering Cancer by Austen Barnes” written in  2010 are selling for $37 a copy on Amazon – twice my asking price! I should have gone into medicine!


Originally published on December 22, 2016.