Smart Industry is a publication of Putman Media, Inc, in Schaumburg, Illinois. This organization unveiled its first list of digital innovators who are “already putting the concepts of the Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, cloud computing, and big data analytics to work with demonstrable results.” Among the top 50 individuals recognized is Oak Ridge’s own Dr. Mark Buckner.

Dr. Buckner is best known at Oak Ridge High School as a FIRST Robotics mentor, parent, and a dual enrollment instructor for Roane State Community College, teaching LabVIEW programming for autonomous robotics. Additionally, he implements Agile methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. It is a disciplined project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, and a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, as well as a set of engineering practices for rapid delivery of high-quality products. Mark implements a Scrum process with students, which is a subset of Agile. It is a lightweight process framework, using development cycles called Sprints. The goal is to keep overhead for processes as small as possible and to maximize the amount of productive time available for getting useful work done.

Mark is recognized by Smart Industry as a synthesizer and intrapreneur. He has over thirty years of experience combining new ideas and technologies to deliver new value. But more importantly than that, as witnessed in his work with students and other FIRST mentors, he enjoys bringing people together to create this kind of synergy. As industry goes through digital transformation, he has identified that, “We need interdisciplinary, cross-functional teams that bring together a broad range of skills. The world’s youth are key. We need to tap into the creativity of the next generation to take on the world’s gnarly problems.”

Mark Buckner, who also currently leads ORNL’s Power & Energy Systems Group, demonstrates this passion toward solving the world’s problems through the brain power of today’s youth in the classroom and in the FIRST Robotics field. Buckner daily works with students of all ages to take ideas and to rapidly implement them in the real world. His work with ORNL includes the areas of signal processing, machine learning, and computational intelligence. He believes that biomimicry holds enormous opportunities to help solve next-generation problems associated with digital transformation—for instance, how does the human brain handle enormous amounts of data with only 20 watts of power? We need to use this as a model for computer architecture. Buckner poses this thoughtful question, “There’s also plenty of space to solve base needs of society. If we could provide affordable electricity and clean water globally, think of the creative capacity that would be unleashed. What kind of questions could we ask then?”

Read the full article: Smart Industry 50 Innovators on the leading edge of digital transformation