Electrical Engineering – 1979, 1980
Mark Newton was raised in Houston, Texas where he graduated from Westbury High School in 1973. After graduation, he moved to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech, the alma mater of both his parents. At Tech, he majored in electrical engineering, receiving his BS in 1977 and his Master’s in 1980. In graduate school, Newton had the privilege of working for Dr. Magne Kristiansen and Dr. Marion Hagler during the early days of the pulsed power program at Texas Tech. Texas Tech’s reputation in the field of pulsed power led to an opportunity to go work for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore California in August 1979.
In 1979, Newton began working as a staff engineer on pulsed power systems for induction accelerator systems. His first major assignment was to work with an experienced engineer to design and build the pulsed power systems to drive a 50 MeV, 10 kA pulsed electron-beam accelerator for studying the propagation of pulsed electron beams in the atmosphere. As part of the Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as the Star Wars Program, the Advanced Test Accelerator (ATA) was built in the hills east of the Lab’s main site over approximately three years.
Newton worked on various other induction accelerator projects, developing technologies to increase the average power capability of short pulse induction accelerators for both energy and defense applications.
In 1996, Newton was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime - for an engineer - to lead the design, development, construction and commissioning of the power conditioning system for the world’s largest laser, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser. Newton and his team, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, developed, built and commissioned a 400 MJ capacitive energy storage and delivery system for the largest pulsed glass laser system ever built. He later became the division leader for a staff of over 400 engineers, technicians, designers and administrative staff.
After retiring in October 2015, Newton has focused more of his free time working with his wife, Erna Grasz (Distinguished Engineer 2014), CEO of Asante Africa Foundation, a nonprofit they co-founded in 2006. Mark is currently the vice chairman of the board of directors for Asante Africa.
In addition to volunteering for Asante Africa Foundation, He also spends his spare time traveling to developing countries, dog training, hiking, snowboarding and scuba diving.