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Michael C. Wicks Memorial

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Michael C. Wicks

Michael C. “Mike” Wicks, PhD, age 61, passed away on December 9, 2020. Born in Utica in the 1959, he earned an Associate degree in Science (Engineering Science) at MVCC; Bachelor degree of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); Master degree in Science/Philosophical Doctorate at Syracuse University (all in electrical engineering); and a Master of Arts in Public Administration at Syracuse University.

Michael’s prolific career included a variety of prestigious positions beginning at the Air Force Research Laboratory initially working in radar in Rome, but later in Dayton, Ohio. He developed Sensor Signal Processing Technology for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems. He was a Systems Engineer supporting a variety of national security needs inclusive of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and international partners through NATO and beyond. He was an Executive the last 10 years of his Air Force career and he taught also graduate students at the Catholic College of the University of Dayton.
He was a member of the AESS Radar System Panel and of the AESS Board of Governors for many years. His smile, kindness and good attitude will be deeply missed.

This page is a tribute to his precious friendship.

Personal Tributes

"It is hard for me to encapsulate all of my thoughts about Mike Wicks in a few sentences. Mike was a friend, a mentor, my boss, my cheerleader and, in the few times we could go, a great partner for a cannoli and coffee in Utica. I loved how his first two questions, always, were "How are you? How is the family?". My wife loved Mike as much as I did – she knew, as I did, that he genuinely cared. Mike was there to advise me on every key moment in my early career. This last year or so, it was so very hard to know he was in pain and that I couldn't visit. All I can say is, inadequately as always, 'Thank you, Mike, thank you!'."

— Ravi Adve


"Mike was an inspirational engineer and a kind and generous friend. He had a wonderful ability to make everyone feel special. We shall miss him, but we will never forget him."

— Hugh Griffiths


"Mike’s generosity to nurture and uplift those around him has deeply touched the lives of many and has left an indelible legacy for his profession and community."

— Joe Fabrizio


"I feel truly blessed to have known and worked with Mike Wicks.  I will remember him as an excellent example of a servant leader." 

— Walt Downing


"Mike was an outstanding engineer who always took the time to answer a technical question I asked him. His personality was warm and open to ideas. I will miss his conversations in meetings and in hallways. His memory will live on in the AESS through his scholarship. Rest in peace." 

— George Schmidt


"Mike was a good person, a bright engineer and a friend. I have never seen him angry. He always smiled at life with a generous attitude towards everyone and his kindness was contagious. We’ll miss him." 

— Maria Sabrina Greco


"Mike Wicks was selfless. It did not matter what was going on in his life, his primary interest was who he was talking to. "How are you doing? What can I do for you? I always pray for you." Mike always made people feel like they were the most important person in the room. I am grateful to have been able to work with Mike through the IEEE AESS. It was a pleasure to see how respected he was in the radar community. But mostly I am grateful to have known him and count him as my friend. He will be greatly missed." 

— Judy Scharmann


"Fresh out of college, AFRL was my first tour in the Air Force.  Mike had a truly transformational impact on my life, and he made working on radar so much fun, he motivated me to get my PhD in radar signal processing.  He wrote my recommendation letter for a fellowship and helped me meet my future PhD advisor, Dr. Bill Melvin.  I loved his energy, and his on-the-fly technical discussions.  I remember just before he sent me off to grad school at Georgia Tech, he pulled me aside and said "tomography" - he plunged into a talk about how radar tomography and its importance, suggesting I consider this for a thesis topic.  I ended up taking a different direction, but when I see all the work later on that he did in this area, I keep remembering that tip he gave me.  He had so many ideas, which was the spark for much of current radar technologies.  He is truly amazing.  Later on, I read a paper he had written entitled "Sensors as Robots" and became fascinated by the idea of cognition in radar systems, something that has led to my current work in deep learning and AI in radar.Mike was talented not just in engineering, but in the arts and handicrafts as well. In 2018, Mike sent me an electronic version of one of his paintings. Given that he has also passed in the Month of Christmas, I would also like to share this beautiful painting of his...Even after I graduated, I had the opportunity to meet up with him at conferences.  Always ready with a hug and smile, his positive optimism was infectious.  I loved hearing his stories and ideas, and just being around him was enough to make you happy.  Such a kind, warm hearted person, always ready with wonderful advice, and seeking ways he can help with anything you are doing.  He will always be in my heart, and will never be forgotten.  I am grateful to have known him and the time I was able to share with him.  May he eternally rest in peace."

— Sevgi Zubeyde Gurbuz


Dear Mike, the first time I met you was in 1996, when I came to US for the first time in my life, to attend the IEEE Radar Conference in Ann Arbor. You were with Pramod Varshney, Jim Michels, and Vincent Vannicola. It was my first impact with the Radar community. What a beautiful memories! At the end of the conference you and Vince brought me back by car to the Detroit airport. I was immediately very impressed with your genuine kindness. Since then we have met many times and I have enjoyed every bit of time we spent together. I will miss your smile and your contagious sympathy.

— Fulvio Gini


Missing Mike.

Who can say how it is that the bonds of friendship begin and grow?  Mike loved people, and students, and ideas.  He listened well.  You could see in his eyes that he heard more than was spoken.  He was funny.  He spoke from his heart.  He helped make après AESS Board meetings interesting.  I will miss him.  I miss him already.  I remember especially the beer and bitter “pub crawl” in and around and under the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  We ended the evening at a pub that boasted that its ceiling beams were off a ship that fought at Trafalgar, or sailed round the world with Capt. Cook, or something equally notable.  Such tales encouraged still more tales, and the stories flowed.  And it was there that I first got to know the man, Mike Wicks.  It was a splendid end to the long day.  It made me wish that I had known him for many years.  Mike’s absence from this world will long be felt by his colleagues, his students, and his friends. 

— Roy Streit


** If you want to add to this page, send inputs to Judy Scharmann.

Field of Interest

“The field of interest shall be the organization, systems engineering, design, development, integration, and operation of complex systems for space, air, ocean, or ground environments. These systems include but are not limited to navigation, avionics, mobile electric power and electronics, radar, sonar, telemetry, military, law-enforcement, automatic test, simulators, and command and control."

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