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Dan Sable

San Sable

Electrical Engineering
Class of 1985, MS; Class of 1991, Ph.D.

Where is your hometown?
Cherry Hill, New Jersey

How did what you learned at Virginia Tech impact your career?
I took a leave of absence from RCA Astro Electronics in 1983 to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech. The first course I took was taught by Dr. William Davis. It gave me an excellent appreciation for analog electronics and analog feedback control systems. Later, Dr. Fred Lee convinced me to accept a GRA position in his power electronic group. The company that I founded, Virginia Power Technologies, Inc. (VPT Inc.), is entirely focused on analog power electronics.

Why did you choose your profession?
After watching the moon landing in 1969, I decided that I wanted to work in the space industry. In 1978, after my sophomore year at MIT, I received a co-op work assignment at RCA Astro Electronics. I have worked in various capacities for the space industry ever since.

Why did you decide to come to Virginia Tech?
I chose Virginia Tech very much on a whim. After I finished my master’s coursework and returned to RCA, I started teaching part-time at Trenton College of New Jersey. After two years, I learned that I would not be able to receive tenure since I did not possess a doctorate. That same week, I received a phone call from Dr. Lee asking me if I would be interested in a research associate position that would allow me the opportunity to work on a doctorate at the same time.

Who influenced you during your career and/or time at Virginia Tech?
After I finished my doctorate, I accepted Dr. Fred Lee’s offer of a research scientist position temporarily as I applied to various schools for an academic position. Then, Dr. Lee asked me if I had ever considered starting a company. I considered the idea. In 1993, Dr. Lee, Gary Hua, and I started VPT, Inc. Today, VPT is the largest supplier of DC-DC power converters to the military, commercial aerospace, and satellite industries. I did not, however, forget my original goal of teaching. In 2012, Dr. Scott Midkiff, department head of electrical and computer engineering, offered me the position of Adjunct Professor of Practice. It has been a thrill for me to go back into the classroom.

What’s one of your favorite memories from Virginia Tech?
When I was a master’s student, my sport was ultimate frisbee. I played on the Virginia Tech ultimate frisbee team. Once, we played an intense weekend tournament at East Carolina University. In the end, we were the champions. On the way home, we stopped in Greensboro for a Grateful Dead concert. I arrived back in Blacksburg on Monday morning just in time for my 8:00 a.m. class. What a weekend!

DEGREES
Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1991
M.S., Electrical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1985
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1980

PROFESSIONAL ROLES
Adjunct Professor, Virginia Tech Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (2012-present)
Co-founder and CEO, Virginia Power Technologies, Inc. (VPT, Inc.) (1993-present)
Research Scientist, Virginia Tech Center for Power Electronics (1992-93)
Research Associate, Virginia Tech Center for Power Electronics (1988-89)
Assistant Professor, Trenton College of New Jersey Electrical Engineering Technology Department (1985-87)
Satellite Electronic Components designer, RCA Astro Electronics (1978-83, 1984-87)

ADVISORY BOARDS, COMMITTEES
Virginia Tech College of Engineering Advisory Board (2013-2016)
Virginia Tech Space @ VT Advisory Board (2006-present)
Virginia Tech Global Engineering Engagement and Research (GEER) Advisory Board (2016-present)
Member of Virginia Tech College of Engineering Committee of 100

Class of: 1985, 1991
Year Inducted into Academy: 2018