James R. Forbes | Faculty

Short Bio


University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
PhD Aerospace Science and Engineering '11
MS Aerospace Science and Engineering '08

University of Waterloo
BS Mechanical Engineering Hon. '06


  • Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


  • Assistant Professor (September 2013 - July 2015)
  • Adjunct Professor (August 2015 - present)

    Specializations and Research Interests

    Control of aerospace and robotic systems

    • Flexible robotic manipulators and structures, spacecraft attitude control (magnetic attitude control), autonomous mobile robots, attitude control of high-altitude balloons.

    Multibody dynamics

    • Flexible structures and robotic systems, flexible spacecraft and space structures, flexible telescoping robotic systems, (unconventional) mobile robots, nonholonomic systems.

    Linear and nonlinear control theory

    • Passivity-based control, overcoming passivity violations, controller synthesis via linear matrix inequalities (LMIs), gain-scheduling, linear time-varying systems, conic sector stability, control directly using the rotation matrix (on SO(3)).

    State estimation

    • Nonlinear state estimation (extended Kalman and sigma point methods), estimation directly using the rotation matrix (on SO(3)).

    Teaching Interests

    AEROSP 347 - Space Flight Mechanics January - April 2014

    AEROSP 540 (MECHENG 540) - Intermediate Dynamics September - December 2014

    Honors and Awards

    • Nominated for the Governor General’s Gold Medal (for the highest academic standing at the graduate level) (2012).
    • G.N. Patterson Award (given to the most outstanding Ph.D. graduate of UTIAS) (November 2011).
    • NSERC Post Doctoral Fellowship (awarded but not accepted) (2011 - 2013).
    • AIAA Graduate Student Paper Competition Finalist (August 3, 2010).
    • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (September 2008 - April 2011).
    • Canadian Space Agency Travel Award (2009).
    • Bronze “T” Award, Varsity Lacrosse, University of Toronto (2009).
    • Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (September 2007 - August 2008).
    • University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Upper-Year Scholarship (2005 - 2006).


    • Awarded “best presentation” in Control in Aerospace Robotics 1 session, AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, Minneapolis, MN (August 13-16, 2012).
    • Awarded “best presentation” in Optimal Control session, AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, Portland, OR (August 8-11, 2011).