2.26.2010

Meet IBM's Mark Smith, Master Inventor, San Jose, CA

Each year, IBM selects a new field of Master Inventors as one way of recognizing IBMers who have mastered the patent process, provided broad mentoring, added value to IBM's portfolio, and demonstrated sustained innovation leadership and service.
Once selected, a Master Inventor is expected to apply his or her mastery of patent knowledge by actively serving as a:

*leader in the invention community
*mentor to a broad community of inventors
*resource to Intellectual Property Legal office

Additional responsibilities of the Master Inventor include:

*nurturing new inventors who are new or unfamiliar with the patent process
*providing advice and assistance to less experienced inventors
*proactively arranging and leading patent mining or education sessions
*contributing to the inventor community's knowledge and understanding of intellectual property value
*helping IP Law patent professionals and senior technical management increase the focus on creating, protecting, and deriving value from intellectual property assets
*recognizing inventions of high licensing value to IBM
*assisting in the licensing of IBM's intellectual property assets, as appropriate
*serving on invention development teams as active members that evaluate disclosures and provide constructive feedback to inventors

This year, IBM Research has named thirty-eight Master Inventors from its global community of researchers. Join me in welcoming Almaden's Mark A. Smith to this list of esteemed IBMers.

Mark A. Smith, a research engineer in David Pease's Storage-Specific Solutions and Services Group on IBM Information Archive and Tivoli Fastback Duplication, has found inspiration from "people in pursuit of knowledge and truth, especially those with humanitarianinterests," listing a few as C.S. Lewis, Jonas Salk, Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman and Galileo Galilei. "I use inspirations like these to try to shape my way of thinking. I think of Harriet Tubman and Mother Theresa as a breed of grass-roots inventors. Harriet Tubman gave us the well-engineered underground railroad, and Mother Teresa a new way of thinking about humanitarianism. Jonas Salk rejected the broadly-held thought that a killed virus could not be used tocure polio, pursuing this rejected avenue of research to achieve his vaccine. Galileo Galilei was a true out-of-the-box thinker, arriving through methodical reason at a conclusion that contradicted his own beliefs; and instead of rejecting either, found a way to reconcile the two for himself. C.S. Lewis is an innovator of methods, marrying analysis with faith in a way that inspires me." Although Mark is not sure what inspired him to do so, he started his working life as a "golf-ball picker-upper and cleaner", working at a golf range after hours while in high school. He graduated to lifeguard and then swim coach; and while an undergraduate, worked as a web lackey for UCSD's computer science department. As a grad student, Mark worked on a software package for finite element modeling and visualization of heart mechanics as a Systems Analyst in the Cardiac Mechanics Research Group in UCSD's Bioengineering department.

Once an IBMer, Mark took a trip through many different areas of Research, (something that he cites as one of the best parts of working at Almaden - the freedom to change your path), beginning with 2 summer internships in the Computer Science Department. As an intern, Mark worked on Systems Management in Virtual Worlds, one of the most innovative initiatives of the time. Following that, now a Research Engineer, Mark worked in Steve Welch's Kool Systems Management Group working on Object Storage, LifeBoat, and ThinkVantage Technologies. Moving on to USER group, Mark found new areas of collaboration, investigating ways to use Data Deduplication to enhance user experience, looking at what is fundamentally a 'large-grain compression' technology through the lens of network collaboration, system abnormality detection and stability enhancement. Mark is now in Almaden's Storage department where he focuses more on Data Deduplication and Archival, contributing to both Tivoli FastBack and Information Archive. One of the best partsof the job, though, is being able to leverage IBM's commitment to continued learning through one of IBM's professional learning assistance programs. Through this program, he is also able to pursue his interest in Bioinformatics at Stanford University. A well-rounded IBMer, Mark's appointment to Master Inventor is supported by his work in each of these areas.

Favorite travel destinations: The wilderness and nature, as exemplified by: Austria, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and the Big Island of Hawaii

Best things about working at Almaden: Nobody looks at you funny if you take a nap, the freedom to change your path, working with colleagues who are not afraid of being wrong, schedule flexibility, the opportunity to continue learning, and working in teams comprised of individuals representing every inhabited continent.

What does achieving this honor mean to me?: Having my contributions to IBM's Intellectual Property recognized through an appointment to Master Inventor is exciting! It is an affirmation that I have been investigating at least some things that make a significant difference to IBM and our customers. I find Dr. Salk's remark that "the reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more" is true in life and in inside IBM. I hope that achieving this honor continues to afford me the opportunity to try new things, fail, and try again.

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