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“How can a country boy from a small town in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee be standing on this stage to receive such high recognition?” The question was asked by Dr. Mark Dean at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards in  Feb. 2000 at the BEYA Gala. Last week, Dr. Dean answered the question again on a radio station in Baltimore. Click here to listen.

Speaking to morning-show host Larry Young on the Newsmaker line, Dr. Dean reprised his role as Black Engineer of the Year.

“It was hard work and knowing that nothing is impossible,” Dr. Dean added. “Those were the main things that drove most of the things I was able to achieve,” he explained. “I have to give large credit to my parents and grandparents,” he added. “They instilled me in the things that I needed to have to be successful.” Click here to listen

Dr. Dean said teachers, parents, and employers can help provide more opportunities for young people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

“Expose them to as much technology as possible,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. The way I learned was I took things apart and tried to put them together.” Reading is important, he added. “We take for granted the importance of reading and communications, and those things can take you a long way.” Click here to listen

What does it mean to have driven a team that produced the world’s first 1,000-megahertz microprocessor, investigated tech requirements that made the Information Age accessible to everybody?

“It means a lot,” Dr. Dean replied. “Whenever you have done something for the first time, that’s what engineering is all about,” he said. “We all dream of doing something or building something that hasn’t been done before. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time t lead a team that actually did that and went on to be the basis of most of the processors of the game consoles at the time,” he said. “So you never know when you have a chance to do something that turns into something even bigger.” Click here to listen

Dr. Dean predicts that the sky is the limit in the information age. Ten years ago, “we could only imagine the things that are happening now.” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the next 10 years?”

He hopes computing will get easier to use. “My mother is still challenged with using computers,” he said. “So, I think one of the things that will happen with this emergence of Artificial Intelligence is make computing and information more accessible and more useful to the general population,” he said. “Not just to people that are computer literate.”

He advises young people to be aware that information and data is the emerging currency of the world.

“There’s going to be more money to be made in how you can use information than anything else. The profit margins will be tremendous,” he said. “Data will be readily available and if you can figure out how to pull insights from that information, you’ll be a millionaire. There’s just no limit,” he said.

Career Communications Group’s Black Engineer of the Year Award Conference is one of the premier conferences that bring together black minorities to expose them to the successes of people of their color, Dr. Dean said. “It’s a chance to see people who are successful, and can tell you how it was done,” he said. “Young people will benefit the most from experiencing and interacting with leaders that we have in our community. Seeing someone that is successful and looks like you can be inspirational. I highly recommend attending the conference.” Click here to listen

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