Meet Mark Bendett
He’s Called Jenner’s Pond Home
Learning what matters in life
Mark Bendett earned multiple degrees, received several awards and fellowships, holds 60 patents, and has traveled all over the world—but that’s not what’s most important to him.
“It’s when I am doing something I consider minor, but get approached later by someone saying, ‘You have no idea how much this helped me out.’ That’s what I consider a blessing,” says this Jenner’s Pond resident. “I’m not lucky—I’m blessed.”
In turn, the world has been blessed. Mark worked on projects that resulted in technology used in Lasik and cataract surgery, a laser used to cut glass for smartphone screens, auto collision avoidance systems, and pulse lasers used in docking the International Space Station and mapping terrain.
Heading west and founding Northstar
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Mark graduated from Haverford College with a bachelor’s degree in physics, then earned master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware. He lived in Minnesota, Michigan, and Washington before returning to the Mid-Atlantic in 2013.
“Oddly enough, I’ve never looked for a job in my entire life. Getting out of school, someone called my advisor looking for someone who had specialized knowledge. That’s how I got my job in Minneapolis with Sperry Corporation,” he says.
After five years with Sperry and Honeywell in Minneapolis, he was recruited to IMRA America, a Toyota-backed start-up in Ann Arbor, where he led the development of laser-based systems and other technologies for the next five years. Then, he saw an opportunity.
“During that time we developed some very interesting optical chips. I asked the president if we were going to do anything with this technology, which didn’t match the portfolio,” Mark recalls. “He agreed IMRA wouldn’t pursue using the technology and allowed me to found a company called Northstar Photonics.”
Over the next several years, Mark grew that company successfully. Unfortunately, one of the company’s investors was the insurer for the World Trade Center. The events of September 11, 2001 brought about the company’s abrupt closure.
On the move and finding community
Aculight, a Seattle-based research company, hadn’t yet created a product in the dozen years they had been in business. In 2005, they brought in a new management team including Mark to restructure the company. The team was so successful that in 2008, Lockheed Martin bought the company. Mark spent 10 years with them. “We were very successful – we made pulse lasers for 3-D imaging, mapping terrain, and even docking to the international space station. My team also developed several laser-based medical products including one to stimulate nerves,” says Mark, who collaborated with Vanderbilt and Northwestern Universities on several of the medical projects.
“Once Lockheed bought us, I was traveling every other week between Seattle and Bethesda. Eventually that is what drove me to move back East,” says Mark. “I loved living in Seattle though. I moved back here in 2013. I worked between the Cherry Hill and Arlington offices until 2018 when I finally retired.”
In August 2019, he moved to Jenner’s Pond. At first, he was attracted by the location, which is convenient to the University of Delaware, where he is very involved. But other aspects also interested him.
“I loved how big the cottages were and that we could customize them as we wanted. I had a few meals here with residents, met a variety of other people, and saw the woodshop. I got the community feel from both the residents and the staff. They all looked after each other,” says Mark, who was recently elected to the Resident Council. He looked at other places, but they didn’t have the same community feel. “It’s one of the critical elements of living at Jenner’s Pond.”
Making a difference for others
These days, Mark is staying active and staying happy. He is very involved in mentoring students and professors as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Delaware. He focuses most of his philanthropic efforts on funding educational activities starting with an endowed fellowship in 2007. In 2018, he sold a large collection of coins from the US Mint and used the proceeds to establish the Bendett Charitable Trust.
“Last year, I reviewed the senior projects of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Whether it’s writing proposals or reviewing technologies, I just really enjoy doing it,” Mark says. “When they host the ‘Shark Tank’-style events, I’m usually one of the Sharks on the panel.”
Now he has time to reflect and appreciate the life he’s led and his travels throughout Europe. But it wasn’t always this way.
“I didn’t appreciate where I traveled and what I experienced until I looked back,” he says. “Maybe I’m a slow learner, but I looked back and said, ‘What are the things I like about my life? Maybe I should do more of that.’ That’s where the mentoring and helping other people comes in. The greatest joys of my life come from this.”
Call us today at 610-869-6800 or submit the form below to see why Mark and other engineers choose Jenner’s Pond for retirement living.