Henk DeGraauw

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Henk DeGraauw

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Mr. Henk DeGraauw immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1953, and worked in the plastic injection moulding industry while completing an electronics course. Then in 1956 he started with Northern Electric’s installation department (Toronto) installing telephone exchanges using the new “#5 Xbar system.” During this time he also tested the first “digitone” telephone system which was being installed in the Malton Airport. After 7 years he was offered a position in the new Bramalea plant in the Design and Control department.

In 1971 the Northern Electric laboratories were formed into a new company called Bell Northern Research (headquartered in Ottawa). Shortly thereafter BNR opened a Bramalea branch lab and Henk joined as an employee, being promoted to manager for XBR systems design. BNR was developing the first digital systems in the world and Henk’s function was to optimize the electromechanical designs - this involved incorporating minicomputers into mechanical switching systems. At some point before 1980 the BNR lab in Bramalea was shut down and Henk moved back to Nortel as “design prime” for all of Nortel mechanical switching systems.

Around 1980 he became manager of the Test Engineering department (working on the new DMS digital multiplex system, a digital cross-bar switch used for routing phone lines). Two years later he was promoted to senior manager for new product introduction, and introduced BNR’s new DMS 100 “Supernode” design to the workers at the Bramalea Nortel plant. By 1987 the new DMS100 was in full production and units were shipped from Bramalea to customers across the globe.

In 1990 Henk became global project manager for major products which involved dealing with major customers and labs in China, Australia, USA, Turkey, Austria, and Germany.

In 1995 he was assigned to a new joint venture in Germany called NORTEL-DASA to set up a laboratory for adapting the DMS100 to the European market (mainly software development). He spent two years commuting to Friedrichshafen and was promoted to Director of Product Introduction. After 2 years in this function and 41 years of service he decided to retire from Nortel.

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