Ulysses Sei Okawa

Ulysses Sei Okawa

Died November 22, 1994

Born in Honolulu, Use majored in electrical engineering at Yale while residing in Branford. He prepared for Yale at Iolani High School in Honolulu, HI.

Ulysses was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship at University of Southern California following his graduation from Yale, and there he obtained a masters in control systems from its School of Engineering.

After that he was recruited by Hughes Aircraft Ground Systems Group in Fullerton, CA. Use worked there for 27 years – with math, modeling and simulation groups as a senior scientist, particularly on the AWACS Boeing-Hughes Aircraft development team that lost the “fly-off” to another contractor.

In 1978 Ulysses was recognized with a Superior Performance Award from Ground Systems Group. His work did not permit him to publish any papers because most of his projects were classified, but Use became a program manager and made many trips to the Pentagon for meetings on radar projects.

His widow, Patricia, remembers: “He enjoyed a good reputation with some U.S. Marine Corps officers – after his sudden death, we received many cards from the Marines he was helping with a field test of a radar at 29 Palms, CA. Ulysses was the unusual engineer who could explain complex diagrams and design systems for multiple applications. He was involved in military contracts that contributed to efforts in the Vietnam War. He was not an ivory tower engineer but a practical hardware man. We lived a quiet family life as most Japanese-American families did. His hobbies were reading and some of the early computer games.”

Ulysses passed away suddenly on November 22, 1994, survived by his wife, Patricia, daughter, Laura Okawa-Toghia, mother, Hisayo Okawa, and brother, Dobson.

Michel Caldwell remembers: I remember USE eating self-cooked meals in our room while working on electrical engineering projects. His wife, Pat, later called me and told me how he rose up one night and keeled over dead of a heart attack – a relatively painless way to go. She told me he had achieved the title of Chief Research Scientist at Hughes Tool where he helped develop the AWACS radar system. (That’s the airplane with the big radar dish on top that controls military aircraft in a theater of operations.) I believe it was Use that once told me that in engineering, the ability to see a problem correctly is very important in solving the problem – something I teach my students when discussing the Gestalt school.

Howard Bernstein remembers: Taught me to enjoy drinking oriental tea.