STEM Superhero Brightens Day for Sick Children

Many Lockheed Martin Canada employees volunteer their time to encourage interest in STEM among local youth. Phillip Vautour, a Senior Systems Administrator at Lockheed Martin Canada, does this with (super)heroic panache, for a truly inspiring cause.

Mr. Vautour’s adventure started back in 2008 with the premiere of the first Iron Man movie. The Iron Man, for those who are not familiar with the comic books or blockbuster movies, is an ingenious powered suit of armour built by Tony Stark, a fictional American billionaire and highly-skilled engineer, who uses the suit to turn him into a crime-fighting superhero.  The Iron Man’s strength is a feat of engineering, making him a good candidate for the ultimate STEM superhero.

LM Canada Iron Man
Photo credit: Nicole Rodriguez Photography

Mr. Vautour had always loved the Iron Man character. Seeing it on the silver screen gave birth to an ambition to build his own replica. Unlike others who might fleetingly entertain a similar notion, Mr. Vautour was actually equipped to carry through on the idea.  He had previous work experience as a semi-professional armoursmith.

He knew that it would be no small undertaking. It took several years to complete the project, however, he kept going, animated and inspired by his plans for using the completed hero suit to bring some fun and joy to sick children.

"I love every moment I get to share with these amazing children and their families to bring some magic into their lives, if only for a little while." - Phillip Vautour

Mr. Vautour says of his undertaking: “I realized that I had to quickly become a subject matter expert in multiple disciplines: sculpting, molding and casting, materials science, auto-body coatings, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and programming, for starters. Needless to say it was a continuous uphill battle, where mistakes were often very costly in both time and money.”

After almost two years of bartering skills with other members of the very exclusive International Iron Man Builder’s Consortium (yes, there actually is such a thing), Mr. Vautour had a functional movie-accurate suit made with the same materials as the “Hero-Suit” Stan Winston Studios created for the ground-breaking film, complete with much of the movie suit’s integrated technology, including light and sound effects.

Mr. Vautour has worn this suit for many events ranging from the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia (a leading provider of children’s health care in the Maritimes); private events for young cancer survivors; the Children’s Miracle Network and the Children’s Wish Foundation in Calgary; and various other charities including Free Comic Book Day (A Children’s Literacy Program).

The suit is 65 pounds of awesomeness, and requires recovery time after each deployment,” says Mr. Vautour, “but I love every moment I get to share with these amazing children and their families to bring some magic into their lives, if only for a little while.”