B. C. (Bert) de Kat, P.Eng., LSMIEEE
My career was most likely inspired by someone giving me an old book called “I.C.S Telephone and Telegraph Engineers Handbook” published in 1928. At that time, just after the end of WWII (1945), I was in grade VIII. This book inspired me very much. Since then I absorbed myself into many other books about electricity. I ran a part-time radio repair business, while in high school. The hardware owner, in our village of Minburn, Alberta, let me set up my shop in the back of his store. Later, when I was in grade XII, I wrote examinations for obtaining my amateur radio license. I passed the exam and was given a call sign to go ahead and operate. This was in 1949 and the call sign assigned to me was VE6HI. School work may have suffered slightly while I was being engrossed in building a home-made receiver and transmitter and related test equipment.
My first job was with an AM radio station, in Edmonton, working as a transmitter operator. I was selected for this job because of my amateur radio qualifications. The term “Transmitter operator” may be a bit of a misnomer because there was not much operating to do. Someone qualified had to present if something went wrong. If there was a power failure the emergency generator had to be started. If the transmitter was at fault there was an emergency transmitter to switch to. In those days, the early fifties, transmitters had to be manned by someone qualified. Nowadays they are remotely monitored and controlled.
My next job was with CN Communications working as an equipment installer. We installed switch boards, repeater and carrier equipment. The job involved much traveling to the various repeater stations. My territory was Alberta and BC.
From 1953 to 1955 I attended the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now called SAIT) in Calgary, Alberta and obtained a diploma in electronics technology.
Upon graduation I was hired by Canadair Ltd., in Montreal, Here my principal job was working with the instrumentation crew installing instrumentation in the first “Argus” airplane for its flight trials.
From Canadair I moved on to the RCA Research Labs in Montreal. I worked with a team that was involved determining the equivalent circuit of the RCA “drift” transistor. At that time, the germanium “drift” transistor was somewhat of a breakthrough at RCA, because its bandwidth was an improvement over the junction transistor.
Montreal was not my favorite place to live so the family and I packed up our bags and moved to Saskatoon to join the support staff of the electrical engineering department at the University of Saskatchewan. It was here where I met my mentor, Norman F. Moody. Norman was the department head of electrical engineering. He was a first-class circuit designer and it was a delightful experience to work for him. I learned a great deal from him.
Later on, Norman was invited by the University of Toronto to become the founding director of the Institute of Bio-Medical Engineering. He invited me to join him, which I did. Here I spent twelve years working in the field of bio-medical research. This was in the 60's when, at that time, bio-medical engineering was real pioneering. Norman encouraged me to write the provincial professional engineering exams. This I did, and I am grateful for his encouragement. This took about six years of my spare time.
In the early seventies I formed my own company, which I named Bio-Tech Co. The mandate of my company is to provide an engineering service designing instrumentation for clients and also providing a facility for constructing prototypes of the designs. My clients are from the medical, environmental and industrial fields. I was able to manage this by working, almost all the time, from our home. Also, I have a patent for a microbiology laboratory machine to replicate samples on petri dishes. The machine was trade-marked “Replicator”.