As this year’s National Engineering Week comes to a close we thought it would be a good idea to take a moment and recognize some engineers who’s contributions impacted society in a major way. Without their tenacity and innovation, many aspects of our daily lives that have become second nature to us would simply not exist. These engineers and inventors had to overcome great adversity to make a difference in the world and we are grateful for their commitment to improving the lives of others. This post features Mark Dean, Peter Goldmark, Igor Sikorsky and Larry Page.
Mark Dean (1957-) Mark Dean was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee in 1957. From an early age it was clear that Dean had a knack for building things when he constructed a tractor completely from scratch. His love for engineering continued as he grew older and he graduated at the top of his class at the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Shortly after graduation, Dean started working at IBM going on to hold three of the company’s nine original patents. His first monumental success was developing the new Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) system bus. The ISA bus allows a user to connect up to 6 devices directly to the computer such as printers, monitors, and disk drives. Dean then went on to create two more revolutionary inventions, the first color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. The list of Dean’s contributions is never ending but they all have one thing in common. They all resulted in better efficiency and ultimately paved the way for future engineers and advancements in technology. Currently, Dean is a professor at the University of Tennessee’s Electrical and Computer Science department and is a member of the National Academy of Engineers.
Peter Goldmark (1906-1977) Peter Goldmark was born in Hungary on December 2, 1906 and is most known for his contributions in television and the recording industry. Goldmark was first introduced to television in 1926 and later worked for CBS where he developed the first technology for color television. The technology used a quickly rotating color wheel that alternated transmission in red, green and blue. This technology also went on to be used in scientific research, famously used in the 1970’s Apollo moon landings to relay pictures from the moon back to Earth. Goldmark later went on to create the standard technology that was used in the music industry known as the long-playing microgroove disc. These contributions and more led to Goldmark receiving the Elliot Cresson Medal in 1969 which is the highest award given by the Franklin Institute recognizing a person’s “discovery in the Arts and Sciences, or for the invention or improvement of some useful machine, or for some new process or combination of materials in manufactures, or for ingenuity skill or perfection in workmanship.” Goldmark also received the National Medal of Science from President Jimmy Carter for all of his contributions towards the communication sciences for education, entertainment, culture and human service.
Igor Sikorsky (1889-1972) Igor Sikorsky was born in present-day Ukraine on May 25, 1889. His passion for engineering was sparked by the teachings of both of his parents at the young age of 11. He began conducting his own experiments right at home and by the time he was 12 he constructed a small rubber band-powered helicopter. Ever since then he was determined to learn all there was to know about aviation but the turning point happened in 1908 on a trip to Germany with his father. He learned of the Wright brothers’ success in aviation and continued his studying of engineering in Paris. Sikorsky first found success in 1912 with his model S-6 that held up to three passengers. He then went on to create the first four-engine aircraft a year later and redesigned it as the first four-engine bomber that was used in World War I. Sikorsky received a tremendous amount of praise and recognition for his contributions but realized there was little opportunity left for him in Europe in the middle of a war so he immigrated to the U.S. in 1919. He continued to work on vertical flight and even formed his own manufacturing company in 1923, but arguably his biggest accomplishment is producing the world’s first mass-produced helicopter in 1942. The technology and configurations are so popular they are still being used in most helicopters produced today.
Larry Page (1973-) Entrepreneur Larry Page was born in East Lansing, Michigan in 1973 and is known for creating the most popular search engine in the world, Google. Both of his parents were experts in the world of computers and both taught at Michigan State University in computer science and programming. Taking things apart and figuring out how they worked intrigued Page and made him realize that he wanted to invent things. This realization combined with the fact that he was exposed to computers and technology at a very young age made it natural that Page graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering. It was while he was enrolled at Stanford University for his PhD in computer science when the idea for Google was created. While working on a research project with Sergey Brin, they wanted to focus on the problem of finding out which web pages link to a specific page. Page knew that there were millions of urls and content that were able to be downloaded from the web but there was no way of knowing which information was the most valuable or which made the most sense. Page was determined to quantify and sort all of this data in order to make the internet more accessible and useful to more people so Google was founded in 1998. Fast forward to today and Google is the most recognized and popular search engine all across the world receiving around 6 billion searches every day. Page is currently the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company that oversees all of its subsidiaries.