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Mati Arno Sauks

February 27, 1951 ~ July 25, 2020 (age 69)

Obituary

It is with sadness, we announce the passing of Mati Arno Sauks at the North Bay Regional Health Centre on July 25, 2020 at the age of 69 years. Dear brother of Tiina Payson (Paul) and Toomas Sauks (JoAnn). Loved uncle of Emilie Sauks (Jody), Kate Haber (Ben), Jennifer Sauks (Winston), Taavi Burns (Nicola), Lisel Gitzel (Nathan), Bevan Sauks (Jenna), and Maret Burns (Colin). Predeceased by his parents; Arvo and Maimo Sauks. As per his wishes, cremation has taken place at Whispering Pines Funeral Home’s Crematorium.  In Liu of flowers donations would be appreciated to Friends of Algonquin Park   http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/foap/donate/ or Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) (Birds Canada)  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34309. Online condolences can be made at www.mcguintyfuneralhome.com

 

From Thibeault Terrace to The Stars by Mati Sauks

 I attended Trussler Public School, graduating in 1965, and Widdifield High School, graduating in 1970.

We lived in Thibeault Terrace in North Bay during those years. It was an enjoyable time for me. I delivered papers for the Nugget, was in the boy scouts, played in the concert band, competed on piano, and played some sports.

 Because I enjoyed science and mathematics, I continued to the University of Toronto to study chemistry and physics, and then to teacher’s college, graduating with an honours BSc and BEd degrees.

Unfortunately, jobs in chemistry and physics, and even teaching, were few and far between. Somehow, I ended up in Ottawa in 1981. After not finding any work, I decided to go back to school to study computer science, which was a new field at that time.

I had some experience in programming computers in the 1970s from courses at U of T and from night courses when I was a part-time teacher.

I enjoyed programming and excelled at it. I graduated from Carleton University with a BCS degree in 1984.

It is interesting where life takes you. After graduating from high school, it is difficult to know what fields to study. It is important to be flexible. Change direction in your life no matter your age or experience. Follow your passion, and job availability.

A professor at Carleton convinced me to join a computer hardware manufacturer in Ottawa called DY-4 Systems. I worked on software that ran on DY-4 hardware, starting with the Z80 and Intel 8086 computers running at 8 MHz Although this is 400 times slower than modern computers, they did their job.

 Over the years, as the computers DY-4 produced became more powerful, we began to write more advanced software.

One memorable project was the Canadian RAMP project to modernize the air traffic control radar system across Canada. This modernized system still operates. In the late 1980s, DY-4 was working with advanced operating system software from the National Research Council. At that time DY-4 decided to reduce its software products, so three other engineers and I created a new company: Precise Software Technologies Inc. We used the NRC operating system (called Harmony) as a starting point for our company.

 It was an exciting time in computing as computers were becoming ever more powerful and requirements for complex software evolved. As such, Precise was at the forefront of many new and exciting projects. We produced an operating system for embedded computers. Embedded computers are not like home computers; they control and monitor all kinds of machines.

We were asked to write a new operating system for Orbital Sciences Corporation that would be used in their ORBOMM multi-satellite system launched from their Pegasus rockets. This operating system became Precise’s main product: MQX.

I got to work in a lab near Washington, next to a satellite. Exciting! This first network of low Earth orbit communications satellites was used for tracking, monitoring, and communicating with equipment on the ground around the world. The network of satellites is still working and still being updated.

 Every project was unique and exciting. We had many different customers: NASA Ames Research (helicopter research), Redstone Arsenal (remote controlled vehicles), Hughes Aerospace (fighter jets), Lockheed Martin (commercial aircraft landing system), Iridium (satellite telephone), California Microwave (airborne radar), Orbital Sciences (multiple satellite projects), NRC (3D image acquisition).

 I got to travel far and wide to our customers for support and training: California, British Columbia, Alabama, Colorado, Virginia, Massachusetts.

Then in 2003, the high-tech bubble burst, we closed our offices in Ottawa, and I retired. However, I couldn’t just sit idly by, so I decided to look for new work. I joined Wind River Systems to work on the new and exciting field of safety certified software. Wind River is an old established company, the largest of its type in the world, whose real time operating system called VxWorks is the best and most used in the world.

The project I worked on was to produce a safety critical version of VxWorks for use in the Boeing 787, 747-8, 767 tanker, and the Lockheed C-130 upgrade. This work came with lots of responsibility, because now we were writing software that lives depended on.

 Now, 15 years later, this software is still used in satellites, Curiosity Mars rover, high-speed trains, robots, nuclear reactors, helicopters, many commercial airplanes, autonomous jet fighters, automobiles, surgical machines, and more.

You can find examples here: https://www.windriver.com/functionalsafety/

As I approach retirement again, I’m still excited to go to work every day because the challenges and responsibilities of what I do are so fulfilling.

 Mati Sauks had a home on the south shore of Lake Nipissing and an apartment in Kanata.

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