USC is honoured to support Canada’s rising stars contributing to the future of Unmanned Vehicle Systems 

Mark_Cuss_ImageIn December 2006, a young, gifted unmanned vehicles engineer working with CDL Systems named Mark Cuss passed away after a courageous 22-month battle with cancer. At the time of his death, Mark was only 27 years old. However, during his short time Mark made significant accomplishments both in his personal life and in his professional life.

Mark grew up near Spy Hill, Saskatchewan and spent his early years growing up on a farm, developing the exemplary work ethic that he carried through his life. Mark was very dedicated to his family, helping them farm 1200 acres, calving 100 head of purebred Simmental cows and feeding feedlot cattle. Indeed, in later years, he even took some vacations from his job as an engineer to go back home to help his parents with the harvest. Even in his early years, Mark showed a strong interest in finding out how machinery worked, anticipating his later career as an engineer.

Mark applied the same work ethic he demonstrated on the farm to his school work, especially in the math and science courses for which he had a particular aptitude. His hard work resulted in his winning a placement in the Shad Valley program in 1996; he received a scholarship to the DeVry Technical Institute in Calgary in 1997.

Mark thrived at DeVry, quickly becoming top of his class and it was here that he first became interested in the development of unmanned vehicles.

For his final project, Mark joined a team that developed, tested and demonstrated a fuzzy logic control system for an unmanned tractor. Combined with rudimentary obstacle avoidance, his project won the top prize in the 2000 DeVry Project Expo which was subsequently spun off into a commercialized product.

After graduation, Mark used his good grades, his obvious can-do attitude and his experience with unmanned vehicles to obtain a position as a junior engineer with CDL Systems.

In a short time, it was clear that he was talented well beyond the norm for someone so junior. Mark became a key member of the CDL Systems team, taking over and overhauling the corporate network, as well as working on the software development for and heading up much of the hardware integration for the Remote Viewing Terminal (RVT), a receive-only control station that allows soldiers to direct access to the video of a UAV being flown in their area. This system has been fielded in Iraq and accumulated many thousands of combat hours, safeguarding soldiers and civilians by ensuring that accurate information is received in a timely manner.

In 2005, Mark was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer. Despite a long and hard fight, Mark passed away on December 3rd, 2006.

In response to the untimely death of this talented young engineer, a scholarship fund has been established in his name, administered by Unmanned Systems Canada in his memory.

Mark_Cuss_Image2The Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship has been set up to:

  • Honour the memory of Mark Cuss by encouraging the interest of those in the field of unmanned vehicles and furthering future innovations.
  • Help those interested in unmanned vehicle technology reduce the financial burden of post-secondary education;
  • Encourage and facilitate students to develop and communicate concepts related to unmanned vehicle technology.

The USC Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship is open to undergraduate studies at any recognized Canadian University or DeVry Institute located within Canada. It is a cash scholarship to be awarded annually to student winners upon proof of enrollment in a qualifying institution.

The tenure of this scholarship is for one year. Should the scholarship not be able to be applied towards tuition during the year in which it was awarded, then an application for deferment may be made. It will be the decision of USC’s Awards Scholarship Committee to allow deferment or to award the scholarship to the second place applicant.

Scholarship Application Requirements

To qualify as an applicant, students must:

  • Be registered full-time in a post-secondary Canadian institution
  • Be a member of Unmanned Systems Canada, work or intern for a corporate or academic member of Unmanned Systems Canada, and/or be a child under 22 of a parent who is an individual or corporate member. To assist with meeting this criteria, in 2018 the USC Awards Committee agreed to provide one-year complimentary memberships to students who apply by the submission deadline 
  • Provide poof of academic accomplishment in the previous school year by maintaining a minimum of 75% average (or 85% average if the previous year was from a high school/secondary school)
  • If the applicant is employed or interning for a corporate or academic member of Unmanned Systems Canada, a letter of reference must be provided from their employer describing their tasks and overall work performance
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the unmanned vehicle industry by writing an essay describing their ‘vision for the UAS industry’ (details, below)

To apply for the scholarship, applicants must:

  • Submit the USC Scholarship Application Form to Unmanned Systems Canada by the application deadline announced each year.
  • Submit transcripts of the previous school year from a recognized Canadian high school/secondary school, university or college located within Canada;
  • Submit proof of enrollment in a recognized Canadian University, college within Canada;
  • Submit a letter of reference from their employer (if the employer is a corporate member of Unmanned Systems Canada);
  • Submit an essay on any unmanned systems-related topic outlining their ‘Vision for the UAS Sector’. Essays have no minimum length, but a cannot exceed 6 pages.

Student Awards Selection Process 

All applications will be reviewed and considered by USC’s Awards Scholarship Committee appointed by the Board of Unmanned Systems Canada. The evaluation process shall treat academic marks, the esssay/technical paper and job performance (if applicable) with equal weight to determine the successful applicant.

To apply for the Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship, please:
Fill in the application form or type your responses into the email message body,  then
 supply all supporting documents by emailing:

The Unmanned Systems Canada Awards Selection Committee at: [email protected]

All applicants will receive:

  • A one-year USC Student Membership
  • A profile on the USC National Industry Directory

The USC Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship winner will be informed within one month, and will receive:

  • A $2500 cash contribution
  • A discounted rate to attend the annual Unmanned Systems Canada Conference and Trade Show to receive their Award