Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship

In 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 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 to the maths and sciences for which he had a particular aptitude. His hard work resulted in his winning a placement in the Shad Valley program in 1996 and, the following year, a scholarship to the DeVry Technical Institute in Calgary.

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 DeVry project expo in 2000 and 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 over-hauling 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 3 December 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.

The 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 the field to which Mark himself made significant contributions in a short time;
  • Help those interested in unmanned vehicle technology assume the financial burden of post-secondary education; and
  • Encourage and facilitate students to develop and communicate concepts related to unmanned vehicle technology.

This scholarship is for undergraduate studies at any recognized Canadian University or DeVry Institute located within Canada.

It is a cash scholarship to be awarded to the winner upon proof of enrolment in a qualifying institution.

The amount of the scholarship will be $2500, awarded annually.

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 the Scholarship Committee whether to allow deferment or to award the scholarship to the second place applicant.

Application Requirements

To qualify as an applicant, each individual must demonstrate the following:

  • Either membership in Unmanned Systems Canada themselves, work / intern for a corporate or academic member of Unmanned Systems Canada or be a child under 22 of a parent who is either an individual member of Unmanned Systems Canada or is working for a corporate member of Unmanned Systems Canada;
  • Proof of academic accomplishment in the previous school year by maintaining a minimum of 75% average (85% average if the previous year was secondary school);
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the unmanned vehicle industry by writing a brief paper describing their vision;
  • If the applicant is employed or interning for a corporate or academic member of Unmanned Systems Canada, supply a letter of reference from their employer describing their tasks and their over-all work performance.

To apply for the scholarship, applicants must:

  • Submit a scholarship application form to Unmanned Systems Canada by 30 September each year;
  • Submit proof of eligibility through personal, parent or corporate membership in Unmanned Systems Canada;
  • Submit transcripts of the previous school year at a recognized Canadian secondary school or university or at a DeVry Institute located within Canada;
  • Submit proof of enrollment in a recognized Canadian University or a DeVry Institute 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 a unmanned systems related topic (max 6 pages in length – no minimum length).


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

The successful applicant will be informed that he/she has won by 15 October and the scholarship will be presented to him/her (if available) at the Unmanned Systems Canada conference in early November.

To apply for the Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship, please fill in the

Mark Cuss Scholarship Application, supply all supporting documents and, return to Unmanned Systems Canada [email protected] by 30 September.