Mark Dean (’79)

Category: Awards | Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna

2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award Winner

It’s safe to say that the personal computer wouldn’t be what it is today without the work of Mark Dean. A 1979 electrical engineering graduate, Dean began working with personal computers as a chief engineer at IBM in Boca Raton, Florida after graduation. As a result of his work, he holds three of the original nine patents on the standard IBM personal desktop computer that serve as a basis for all personal computers and has more than forty patents or patents pending.

Now, the fellow and vice president of Technical Strategy and Worldwide Operations, Dean’s worked has garnered him national and international honors. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997 and has racked up numerous accolades, including being named one of the “Innovators of the 21st Century” in 2000 by U.S. News and World Report, (only the third African- American to hold this honor), CCG Black Engineer of the Year in 1997 and 2000, the National Institute of Science Outstanding Scientist Award, and the US Department of Commerce’s Ronald H. Brown American Innovators Award. He is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Distinguished Engineer. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and National Academy of Engineering, he also serves on the UT College of Engineering Board of Advisors.

How do you define success?

Success is achieving a preset goal or completing a task of importance to yourself and/or other party. Success does not equate to recognition or reward. Success is usually accompanied by a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. No matter how much someone else feels you have been successful, if you don’t have that feeling it doesn’t feed your soul.

What advice would you go back and give yourself as a college freshman?

I would advise myself to never say ‘never.’ I would advise myself that anything you can imagine is possible, keep imagining and trying. Also, there are a lot of ‘right’ ways to accomplish a task or design something. The important thing is something has been completed with one of the ‘right’ ways. History will remember that the task was completed and you were a part of the effort. So make a decision and get on with it.