David E. Parekh
Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, 1982
Induction year: 2023
With the inspiring support of his family, David E. Parekh has built a career full of lifelong learning and research. During his undergraduate studies, when he nearly flunked a midterm, it was his mother who encouraged him to persevere and believe in himself. With her encouragement, he finished the class with an A. On graduation day while his family took pictures, his grandfather, who never went to high school, put on Parekh’s gown and wore it with pride. To this day, he has inspired Parekh’s pursuit of excellence.
These relationships, as well as meeting his wife of 40 years on campus, have taught Parekh that empathy is as important as intelligence.
After graduation but before starting a career in research laboratories, Parekh went on to receive a Master of Science in mechanical engineering, a Master of Science in electrical engineering, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
Parekh credits Professor Emeritus Robert Mahan for instilling his passion for research. Mahan established and directed the Thermal Radiation Group, a nationally prominent laboratory in remote sensing and infrared technology.
Parekh has worked for Boeing, in addition to McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and the United Technologies Research Center. He is currently the CEO of SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute with a rich history of supporting government and industry.
Reflecting on his career path, Parekh gave future engineers the following advice: “Don’t be preoccupied worrying about what your next job or promotion will be. Instead, focus on doing a great job on what you are doing today. Establish a track record of delivering, and your next job will find you.”
Parekh is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.
Menlo Park, California
Degrees from other institutions:
- M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 1983
- M.S., Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, 1985
- Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 1989
- Chief Executive Officer, SRI International, 2021-present
- Corporate Vice President of Research; Director, United Technologies Research Center, 2007-2019
- Deputy Director, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Associate Vice Provost for Research, Georgia Tech, 2003-2007
- Laboratory Director, Georgia Tech Research Institute, 1997-2003
- Principal Technical Specialist, Boeing, 1992-1997
- Research Scientist, McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories, 1988-1992
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Fellow, 2010
- Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Member, 2010
- Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma Honor Societies, Member, 1982
- Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Study on Risk-Based Strategy for COVID-19 Response, Project Director, 2020
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Member, 2016-2020
- Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, Member, 2017-2019
- NAE Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable, Member, 2011-2013
- Defense Science Board Task Force on DoD Energy Strategy, Member, 2006-2007
- United States Tennis Association New England, Captain of the Year, 2017
United Way, Tocqueville Society Member, 2010-2019
Who influenced you during your career or time at Virginia Tech?
Bob Mahan instilled my passion for research, Mike Tilley took a chance on me to lead, and Paul Ribbe exemplified a life committed to science and faith.
What’s one of your favorite memories from Virginia Tech?
Late-night walks around the Drillfield with Teri, my wonderful wife of 40 years!
How did your family inspire you in your educational journey?
On graduation day while my family took pictures, my grandfather, who never went to high school, put on my gown and wore it with pride. He inspired my pursuit of excellence. Also, one time I nearly flunked a midterm, but my mom encouraged me to persevere and believe in myself. I finished that class with an A.
How have you utilized your Virginia Tech degree in your career?
When have I not? Engineering teaches one how to think, create, and problem-solve.
What advice would you share with your younger self just starting off in your career?
Don’t be preoccupied worrying about what your next job or promotion will be. Instead, focus on doing a great job on what you are doing today. Establish a track record of delivering, and your next job will find you. Make sure to develop depth in your technical field. Remember that empathy is as important as intelligence.
Please note: Inductee spotlight is as of the year of their induction.