Carson Payne

Engineer / Inventor

Attended KCSS • 1969–1971

Inducted 2011

Engineering Design Innovator.

Carson Payne is a visionary, an abstract thinker, a design innovator and a manufacturing entrepreneur. His systems designs, inventions and outside-the-box thinking have taken him across North America, Europe and Asia. Carson Payne embraces challenge with enthusiasm and enthusiastically follows his passions. Tall in stature, he is also a person who tends to change things in a big way.

Most of Carson’s acquired skills, positive attitudes and work initiatives had beginnings in large-scale family projects, two of which were the building of a 32’ power boat in their small Toronto driveway and a large log home along the Aurora Sideroad. The neighbours’ remarks that it couldn’t be done, served only to motivate.  When Carson arrived at KCSS mid-term with credit for advanced courses and computer programming experience, guidance counsellor, Mr. Ross McClure offered that he could either coast through the rest of Grade 10 or skip mid-term into Grade 11. Payne chose the challenge and attributed his subsequent academic success to the extra efforts of teachers, Mr. Keith Carson and Mr. Doug Hill.

After five years in the engaging Co-Op Systems Design Engineering program at the University of Waterloo, Payne left to start his first company, Hovercraft Fabrics Ltd.  The combination of a wild ride in a hovercraft at Expo 67 and his ensuing KCSS Science Fair project put together in the family garage, ended up as a Canadian & U.S. patent for ‘Air Cushion Vehicle Skirt Material and Method’ tested by NASA Langley as a Prototype Advanced Air Cushion Landing Systems for Aircraft.

A selection of other accomplishments:

- Past President of Canadian Air Cushion Technology Society (CACTS), a constituent society of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI).

- Developed one of the world’s first air cushion running shoes for a marathon runner

- Conference Speaker with 12 published papers 1975—1998

- Co-chair, joint symposium with the U.S High Speed Marine Vehicle Society, Maryland

- Process architect of advanced manufacturing systems for new factories

- Created North America’s first plant-wide ‘Smart Mould’ injection monitoring system, Ontario

- 2 granted & 7 patents pending for the Aerogarden, a dirt-free hydroponic counter-top herb garden.

When asked how he has been able to develop strategic tactical solutions in such diverse industries, his response was unexpected. “I trained myself to compensate for a learning disability that had been undiagnosed until my wife, Beth, an English teacher, identified it as dyslexia.  I accumulate a visual concept of necessary information and have learned to trust myself to work on a complex problem while asleep. I wake up with a solution.”

Today, Carson and his family reside in Connecticut. He works as Director of Manufacturing Strategic Planning with environmentally progressive FuelCell Energy Inc., a company that develops and manufactures ultra-clean stationary fuel cell power plants which provide power to large facilities and fueling stations for fuel cell electric vehicles.

A personal note from Carson to current students:

Create a vision of your future even when you don’t know exactly how to get there. When choosing between “take it easy or take the challenge” – take the challenge. Learn to trust your instincts, intuition and your own ability when others are skeptical. Solicit, locate, create your own career positions when none are readily available. Your brain is very powerful.  It is still working while you are sleeping. Don’t let anyone tell you, “That’s impossible, it can’t be done.” Pursue your passion, use your imagination.


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