Alumni Spotlight: Mark Banash

Mark A. Banash—Making the Possible Profitable

By Chip Cassano |   November 2010

Mark Banash , Alumnus

Every day, it seems, the worlds of science and science fiction draw closer together. But for every innovation that makes its way into our daily lives, a dozen others vanish into the daunting divide between the research laboratory and the assembly line, between the realm of the possible and the realm of the profitable. Enter Mark A. Banash.

With a PhD in physical chemistry from Princeton University and an MBA from UMUC, Mark knows both sides of that divide. And, as vice president of engineering for Nanocomp Technologies, Inc., his job now is to help bridge that divide for a company that’s poised to move to the forefront of one of the 21st century’s most exciting industries.

Currently, Nanocomp can make a carbon nanotube that’s about one millimeter long, or roughly as long as a dime is thick. So what, you ask? Well, to start, that’s about 1,000 times longer than other manufacturers can produce.

"We just issued a press release announcing that we can produce a three-by-six-foot sheet of material that’s made out of pure carbon nanotube," said Mark. "No one else in the world can do that. As you might imagine, we already have some very interested companies in the aerospace industry, but that’s just the beginning."

As it happens, much of that work is going to end up on Mark’s plate, because Nanocomp isn’t a big factory—yet. "That’s why Nanocomp hired me," said Mark. "They said, 'We’ve got expansion plans over the next five years.'"

As director of production and quality of nanomaterials for Zyvex Corp., one of the world’s first nanotechnology companies, Mark managed the company’s manufacturing operations, including the design and construction of its pilot plants. As a senior scientist at Millennium Chemicals, he worked on product development and manufacturing, helping to incorporate the company’s pigment products into different polymer matrices. And, for the past several years, he has served as an adjunct professor in UMUC’s MBA program, teaching AMBA 604 Technology and Operations Management.

“I’ll admit that one of the reasons I agreed to teach AMBA 604 was because I wanted to absolutely learn it," said Mark, "and there’s no better way to do that than to teach it to someone else."

This story has been edited for the Web. The complete article can be read in the latest edition of Achiever, UMUC's alumni magazine.