Marcus J. Bendickson
Systems Development Revolutionary
Inducted in 2007
If technological nay-saying seems to be on the decline in the new century, the work of Marcus J. Bendickson is one source of the phenomenon. In tracking the interactions of complex systems via mathematical and physical models of the systems, The University of Alabama in Huntsville alumnus and chief executive officer of leading Alabama corporation Dynetics achieved some revolutionary firsts.
In the 1970s, beneath defense organizations’ uniformly raised eyebrows, Bendickson’s Dynetics’ team applied early digital supercomputing to characterize radar and missile systems’ performances without actually building them. Their work put costly “live system” testing behind the times. Bendickson’s definitive results from simulations of technological advances were a glimpse of a new, more-is-possible era.
With a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State University, Bendickson worked for Bell Laboratories and Teledyne Brown from 1969 to 1975. He studied ground-based radar that featured weighted pulse train communications (well used in missile defense today) and microwave communications. Within months of Dynetics’ establishment in Huntsville in 1975, he joined it to pursue radar and missile engineering. In particular, Bendickson’s Dynetics’ group analyzed U.S. and NATO command-and-control, including the HAWK, Stinger, and Patriot missile defense systems, and the AWACS radar system. Amid such responsibility, he pursued a doctorate as a UAH night student. He also wrote his dissertation on improved understanding of radar waveform returns while employed full time.
Bendickson’s administrative skill became evident as he built teams of Dynetics aerodynamicists, radio frequency engineers, signals specialists, control theorists, and environmental modelers, closely allied to ensure design chains sans weak links. As Dynetics’ president from 1989 to 1997, Bendickson saw 190 employees increase to 410 and $14 million in sales increase to $60 million. He became CEO in 1997. Today, the company has 900 employees in eight states with $200 million in annual sales. In June, it opened capacious new headquarters in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park.
Bendickson’s policy of responding quickly, modeling accurately, and curtailing costs led, among other things, to Dynetics’ design, fabrication, and delivery of the United States Air Force’s headline-grabbing MOAB bomb in under 90 days. Beyond their forceful impact on the United States’ capacity to protect its citizens, soldiers, and interests from threat systems, Bendickson and Dynetics have contributed safety solutions for medical information management, the automotive industry, and drug-treatment programs. His firm patented many ideas, including a counter-rotating scanner protected in 28 countries. The company also boasts many awards, including the Small Business Administration’s Prime Contractor of the Year, two Department of Defense awards for best research and development, and ISO 9001 certification.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers named Bendickson its 2002 Professional of the Year. He is a member of UAH’s College of Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and is a UAH Foundation trustee. He is a past chairman of the board of his local Better Business Bureau, actively serves Huntsville’s chamber of commerce, and is a focus group member with the American Management Association. He is a member of the boards of the National Space Science and Technology Center, Areté Associates, and Colonial Bank.
Marcus and his wife, Sheryl, have a daughter who is a Huntsville educator, a son who is a Dynetics radar signatures expert, and one grandchild.