Mark E. Dean

UT Knoxville, ’79


Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.

Mark Dean helped shape modern computing.

He was chief engineer on the team that designed the original IBM PC in the early 1980s. He helped develop technologies, including the color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. With a colleague, he developed a system that allowed devices such as printers and monitors to be plugged directly into computers.

Dean was poised for success early on. Growing up in Jefferson City, Tennessee, he loved to build things. He was an athlete and a straight-A student.

Dean landed his job at IBM shortly after graduating from UT in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Juggling work and studies, he went on to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 1982 and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1992.

Over the years, Dean has received many honors. In 1996, he was named an IBM Fellow, the first African-American ever to receive the honor. He was named Black Engineer of the Year in 1997 and 2000, and he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2001, he was tapped to be a member of the National Academy of Engineers.

In 2013, Dean retired from IBM and returned to UT, where he is now the John Fisher Distinguished Professor in the Tickle College of Engineering.

“It’s great to be back at my alma mater, where I can share what I’ve learned over the course of my career with student engineers who will shape the technology of the future,” Dean says.