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Industry stalwarts remember change agent Javad Ashjaee

Dr. Javad Ashjaee, Founder and CEO of Javad GNSS, 1949–2020. (Photo: Javad GNSS)

Dr. Javad Ashjaee, Founder and CEO of Javad GNSS, 1949–2020. (Photo: Javad GNSS)

The GNSS community was deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Javad Ashjaee — Javad, as he liked to be called — on May 30. Following are excerpts of comments by GPS World Editorial Advisory Board members and others, all of whom also expressed their heartfelt sorrow.

Message from The Ashjaee Family

“Once in a while an individual comes along with a spirit seemingly superhuman, a resolve and constitution seemingly indestructible. Dr. Javad Ashjaee was one such individual. His talent, intellect, commitment and sheer guts were head and shoulders above the rest, much to the chagrin and frustration of his competitors and naysayers. But those closest to him know that he was also simply, beautifully, erringly human. He brought out in the rest of us the strength and wisdom we could not always see in ourselves. Yes, he was a force of nature, as many describe, but Javad never did anything alone. Throughout the years, he has had a sizable family and team, by blood as well as by love, behind each of his many achievements and contributions to his field. He once told us his name, Javad, means ‘generous.’ And that he was. All that he has given to, and all that he has inspired in, his family, team, and professional industry, forms a legacy that will continue for years to come. We, his family, his team, his protégés and protectors, are here to stay and stronger than ever. If he were here, he would surely wonder how his competition would proceed without that fire only he could ‘light up their asses.’”

Jules McNeff
VP of Strategy and Programs
Overlook Systems Technologies

“Javad was a brilliant innovator, although he could be a bit infuriating at times. He loved to place ads in GPS World in part to poke fun at the DoD for our Selective Availability policies, for which I was the principal defender at the time. Javad was a unique and talented person of tremendous fortitude and intellectual confidence who was never afraid of controversy. The GNSS community will miss his energy.”

Mitch Narins
Strategic Synergies

“When I think of Javad, the words that come to mind are ‘brilliant, dedicated, driven, and committed.’ The last time I saw Javad at an ION GNSS+ conference, he knew he was on the side of an argument opposing many other experts in our GNSS community. That did not bother Javad. He was never one to go along to get along — which was one of the reasons he was able to develop such innovative and capable systems. Our GNSS community has lost a leader, innovator and contributor to the science and engineering behind position, navigation and time.”

Paul McBurney
Ph.D., CTO and co-founder

“Javad was a one-man army who was not afraid to fight. From his days at Trimble, where he developed major advancements in receiver software, and through all of his endeavors, Javad produced an impressive amount of truly innovative solutions. He used the LightSquared crisis as an opportunity to add novel front-end filtering to his products, and cleverly marketed it. His writing was unmistakable, featuring the wordsmithing of both an engineer and a salesman. He was a role model to many aspiring GPS entrepreneurs.”

Tim Burch
Director of Surveying

“Javad’s contributions to the surveying profession helped turn every practitioner into a geospatial information provider. From his early days at Trimble pioneering the commercial-grade receiver to creating his company at Ashtech and embracing GLONASS with GPS, he continued to expand the capability of the GNSS receiver. Many surveyors today, however, only know his name through his latest company, Javad GNSS, and its unique line of receivers and measuring devices, with their distinct green color. Javad was a big part of the GNSS revolution, so the next time someone starts up his/her receiver to collect survey data, take a moment to thank him. His departure leaves a giant hole in the geospatial world.”

Michael Swiek
Managing Director, Executive Branch and International
GPS Innovation Alliance

“The ‘Original Cast’ of GPS innovators is dwindling. Javad was a complicated, self-made, innovative, and entertaining man. In the many years we knew each other, we worked on shared visions, many challenges, laughed a lot, and disagreed and argued more than a bit. We always remained friends, honest to each other. Javad was a true GNSS pioneer.”

Ellen Hall
President and CEO
Spirent Federal Systems

“What a loss for everyone. Such a talented person who truly made his mark on the world.”

Greg Turetzky

Dr. Ashjaee led the signals team of the “Satellites vs. Signals” after-dinner debate at the GPS World Leadership Dinner held during ION GNSS 2008. (Photo: GPS World)

Dr. Ashjaee leD the signals team of the “Satellites vs. Signals” after-dinner debate at the GPS World Leadership Dinner held during ION GNSS 2008. (Photo: GPS World)

“I have very fond memories of Javad from the many years we attended
ION GNSS+ and other industry conferences. I will always remember a spirited ‘Satellites vs. Signals’ debate we had at a GPS World Leadership Awards Dinner. We were equally passionate about the debate — despite not having chosen the opposite sides to which we were attached. These are the memories of Javad I treasure. He was passionate, informed, innovative and really good at playing the game. His spirit of innovation will be missed, but I am confident it will be carried on by other members of the GNSS community of which he was such an important part.”

Alison Brown
President and CEO

“I am so sorry to hear about Javad’s passing. He was an innovator and an originalist. We worked together after he left Trimble and was in the process of starting Ashtech. I particularly remember his championing the cause, with me, against Selective Availability. He ran an ad with the iconic image of the Mona Lisa as part of this cause, with the slogan “Why ruin a work of art?” It is tragic that Javad fell victim to COVID-19. He will be sorely missed.”

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