I Am Thomas Karakolis

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Thomas Karakolis is a Defence Scientist with Defence Research and Development Canada. His work and research aims to benefit the members across the Canadian Armed Forces by identifying ways to ease the burden placed on their bodies and allow them to more effectively carry out their duties

He is one of the many dedicated women and men across Defence working hard to implement the Defence Policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged.


The work that I do at DRDC (Defence Research and Development Canada) generally focuses on soldier physical burden.

So throughout recent history soldiers have been given more and more equipment to either carry or wear. All that equipment is beneficial to the soldier, but it also comes at a cost. And when I say cost, I don’t necessarily just mean a monetary cost, but it also comes at a performance cost. So when you carry anything around or you wear anything there’s a certain amount of weight obviously associated with it. It’s really tough to quantify exactly how those factors effect physical performance but it’s important to know that because when you’re measuring the benefit of a piece of equipment that it’s designed for and intended to create, you also want to know the cost so you can make an informed decision when you’re going to try and decide whether or not a soldier should carry a new piece of equipment.

My name’s Thomas Karakolis. I’m a Defence Scientist at the DRDC Toronto Research Centre and my educational background is in biomechanics so I look at how people move and try and describe that with numbers essentially.

So the work that I do in terms of Strong, Secure, Engaged policy really fits under acquiring new equipment for the light forces. Part of that initiative looks at acquiring lighter body armour. When eventually the Canadian Army does go and procure new body armour, how much lighter does it need to be? That’s a question that we need to have the answer to so that we can end up making informed decisions when we’re trying to equip the future soldier.

So you have two options essentially when you’re trying to reduce physical burden: one is you can make the equipment smaller and lighter; the other option is you can introduce a new piece of technology that will actually offload the soldier so that the soldier doesn’t feel the weight or the bulk or the stiffness of the piece of equipment. A type of technology that you can use to do that is called the exoskeleton.

Part of our job is to actually try and test that and put metrics towards that to see if this technology actually does what it claims to do.

I think one of the best parts of this job is actually the ability to support the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) and create research that has an impact and will make a difference in people’s lives.

The population that we look at is probably one of the populations that I feel most strongly about trying to be able to help and support. So if we can actually help the Canadian Army make a decision that’s going to positively impact a soldier’s life, to me that’s the greatest satisfaction that I could get.

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