W. Clark Dean graduated from Lehigh in 1963 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. That year, he won the National ASME Old Guard competition for a technical paper and presentation on an internal combustion engine he invented in his senior project, and was awarded the "Andrew W. Knecht Award for the Practical Application of Engineering Theory." Since then, Mr. Dean earned an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Hartford Graduate Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1968) and has had a diverse career that exemplifies "the practical application of engineering theory" in the automotive, aerospace, railroad and computer printer industries. His inventions throughout his career have earned some 30 U.S. patents.
After graduating from Lehigh in 1963, Mr. Dean went to work for the Saginaw Steering Gear division of GM in Saginaw, Michigan, as a design engineer. He was involved in GM's pioneering work on front wheel drive automobiles. His first patent came from this project -- he invented a high angle, constant velocity universal joint, designed for use if the front-wheel drive system did not succeed. The device allowed a traditional engine and transmission to drive the rear wheels of a new body design without adding a drive-line hump to the vehicle's floor.
In 1965 Mr. Dean moved to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, to join the Space Systems group at Hamilton Standard division of United Aircraft (now the Hamilton Sunstrand division of United Technologies Corporation) just as the design of the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) was starting. He quickly established himself as a valve and pressure regulator specialist, and was responsible for the design of the high pressure oxygen components for the LEM life support system that repeatedly allowed man to land on the moon and return safely to earth. He designed the CO2 removal and temperature control system for the Shuttle Orbiter, and special vacuum valves for the Regenerable CO2 Removal System (RCRS) that was used for the Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) Shuttle Space Lab missions. He designed the Vent Flow Sensor & Check Valve, and a magnetic flux concentrator system for the brushless DC fan motor in the Shuttle Space Suit (Extravehicular Mobility Unit, EMU.) He also designed a life support system for Navy submarines. Since all of these design activities were conducted under government contract, Hamilton Standard did not file for patents on related inventions, yet Mr. Dean did receive two NASA Tech Brief awards during this time period.
In 1980, Mr. Dean left UTC and went to work for the Budd Company, the manufacturer of the Amtrak Metro Liners and other stainless steel passenger rail cars, at their Technical Center in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. During this time, he received several patents on rail car suspensions and was the project engineer on a tilting-body Metro Liner prototype for for it's proof of concept hi-speed test run on Amtrak's northeast corridor.
In 1983, Mr. Dean went to work as the Chief Mechanical Engineer for KCR Technologies in East Hartford, Connecticut, a start-up company developing a high speed computer printer with a revolutionary direct charge deposition printing technology. Within the first two years, he had completely redesigned the print head, paper path and print engine. The redesign dramatically improved stability and supported the continued evolution of KCR's technology. His understanding of physics and his hands-on prototype building skills allowed the development of a unique charge deposition surface conditioning apparatus essential to the print quality of the print engine. He was inventor or co-inventor for the six patents that formed the core of KCR's intellectual property.
Mr. Dean returned to Hamilton Sunstrand in 1990 when that company won a major contract for the International Space Station (ISS) life support system. Over the next 17 years, until his retirement in 2007, he was awarded 18 patents for inventions of a wide variety of mechanical devices. His invention of zero-gravity water separators, which could remove air from soapy wash water without foaming, was a necessary breakthrough that allowed the continued development of the ISS water processor. In addition to numerous valves and other water separators for the ISS, he invented electrochemical cell stacks for use on U.S. Navy submarines, flexible body armor for the U.S. Army, space suit designs for a future Mars mission, and a medical cooling vest. He also designed and hand built most of the prototype Mars space suits used in Hamilton Sunstrand's contribution to the Houghton Mars Project at Devon Island above the arctic circle (see http://www.marsonearth.org/)
Birthplace: Narberth, PA
Degree: B.S., mechanical engineering
Notable Achievement: 30 U.S. patents; major contributions to astronaut life support systems