Information Technology Services (ITS)
IT@UofT People — Matt Wilks
Published on: January 21, 2022
The backbone of any successful team is its hard-working people. The University of Toronto’s Information Technology Services (ITS) unit is no exception. It is made up of a diverse range of people with an even greater diversity in their interests and talents.
In this segment, entitled “IT@UofT People,” we will get to know our IT@UofT team across the tri-campus community and find out more about their hidden or not-so-hidden talents and/or pursuits outside of work.
Name: Matt Wilks
Department: Information Security
Title: Senior Identity & Access Management Architecture
How long have you worked at U of T?
I started working at U of T in May 2003, the day after I took my last exam as an undergrad student.
What are your secret or not-so-secret talents and hobbies outside of work?
How and why did you get involved in this hobby?
My job at U of T has me sitting at a desk all day and woodworking gives me the chance to interact with the world in a way that doesn’t involve a screen. It requires problem solving, but in a much different way than computer programming does. I find pleasure and satisfaction in figuring out the best way to form a particular joint using the tools available, or the journey of taking a project idea from the initial thought through to its realization in the physical world.
When/how did your interest in this area begin?
I’ve been involved with a summer camp since approximately 2008, where I spent tons of time in the workshop doing various projects during my first year there. I enjoyed that quite a bit and figured I’d continue doing it when I returned home.
Do you have any professional training in this field?
None. YouTube is my friend.
Who/what are your inspirations?
When I first started, I spent a lot of time on Mattias Wendel’s website (woodgears.ca). He always had such interesting projects that seemed to push the limits of what you can do with wood. My first workbench (which has since been deconstructed and repurposed for other projects) was modeled after plans on his site.
Anything else you would like to add?
Woodworking can tie you to your past. Growing up, my grandfather had a hobby farm and on the property was an elm tree that had to be cut down due to the Dutch Elm disease. My grandfather had the foresight to have it milled, and 30 years later, my uncle passed along some of that wood to me. I’ve made several projects with it – from the coffee table in my living room, to a crokinole (a disk-flicking board game) board for my sister’s wedding present. It has always struck me as pretty awesome that you can have that ever-present reminder of the past and all the good memories we had at that place because of a hobby.