Leader Under 40: Mark Sullivan

Sr. Mechanical Engineer, U.S. Dept. of Defense - BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland; MS Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland


Mark Sullivan, Sr. Mechanical Engineer, U.S. Dept. of Defense - Control Engineering 2012 Leader Under 40Mr. Mark Sullivan, 38
Sr. Mechanical Engineer, U.S. Dept. of Defense
Ft. Meade, Md.


BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland; MS Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland


Sullivan currently works as the Automation System Subject Matter Expert for the U.S. Dept. of Defense Intelligence Community, directly supporting over $3.1 billion of new construction and renovation capital improvements. He has been able to leverage his 15 years of experience in commercial controls to standardize and optimize the operations of chiller plants, air handlers, heating systems, and high performance data centers in over 10 million sq ft of government facility space. By implementing energy efficient control strategies, installing intelligent measuring devices, and integrating this data into a self developed predictive chilled water flow model, he has been able to capture cost savings of over $2.2 million, which can be directly passed on the American taxpayer. Additionally, he has minimized emergency response time to unexpected events by creating a standard sequence of operations that is familiar to the operators; a critical factor when controlling zero downtime data centers. Sullivan finds the most exciting parts of a career in the controls industry is when you see systems and equipment dynamically operate the way you had envisioned, and when you can pass on that excitement to the “next generation” of industry experts.

Non-work-related activity

Sullivan is an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy novels. He finds that exploring worlds where the laws of physics do not apply improves his creativity and changes his perception when working on real world problems. Inspiration for breaking the paradigm of “it’s always done that way” often comes from the most unexpected of sources, such as Tolkien, Brooks, and Sanderson.

Engineering-related activity

Sullivan volunteered at the local day care center to upgrade and modernize their office network and computer hardware and software infrastructure. He migrated their office from using individual dial up internet connections and stand alone workstations to a single routed high speed network with Enterprise level email accounts. He also configured their system to allow sharing of resources and applications, reducing their operating costs and administrative time, allowing those funds to be used on the children's toys, games, and activities. "Being a father, you learn that a child’s happiness is more valuable than any amount of effort," said Sullivan.

Interesting details

Sullivan studies music theory and has played acoustic and electric guitar for the past 25 years. His interest areas are classical, jazz, rock, and heavy metal. He played in several bands throughout high school and college, however he now hopes to start a new band with his three- and five-year old sons, both of whom love to play drums and sing. Sullivan also does finish carpentry, and finds installing crown molding to be a welcome change from normal engineering activities. Usually his projects add new tools to the wood shop, much to his wife’s chagrin.

Began interest

As a child, Sullivan often spent hours building and creating with Lego brand toys. One year for Christmas he received a battery-operated motor assembly, which included gears, pulleys, belts, and other devices. Using this assembly, he started adding motion to everything he created, from cars and robots that moved to cranes that lifted. By incorporating mechanical switches and contacts, he could make his creations do even more, inspiring him to keep building and designing. Without even realizing it, he incorporated fundamental control concepts and made his creations tremendously more enjoyable.

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