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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2012 / 07 

Robert G. Parker to head Department of Mechanical Engineering

July 10, 2012

Robert G. Parker
Robert G. Parker

Robert G. Parker, a past recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), has accepted the position of head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

“We had an extraordinarily strong set of applicants. The depth of the applicant pool reflects the excellent reputation of the department and the great work being done by the mechanical engineering faculty, staff, and students. Some might say that Dr. Parker has the unenviable task of following Ken Ball as department head. Instead, I would drop the “un” and declare it to be one of the most enviable opportunities in academic leadership,” said Richard C. Benson, dean of the college and the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Chair of Engineering.

Parker is currently a distinguished university professor and the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute's executive dean where he has worked since 2008. Earlier in his career, he was at Ohio State University where he directed its Dynamics and Vibration Laboratory and received many awards and honors for the excellence of his teaching and research on the dynamics and vibration of high-speed mechanical systems.

In addition to the PECASE award, Parker is an inaugural recipient of China’s "1000 Person Plan" award, the Chinese government's highest distinction for foreign scholars. Parker also received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award, an Army Young Investigator Award, the Gustus Larson Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Ralph Teetor Educational Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Outstanding Faculty Award from the American Society of Engineering Education, and Ford’s Chief Engineer Award.

Parker holds the rank of Fellow with both the ASME and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

His reputation extends well beyond United States borders. He received the French government Poste Rouge Award and has been a visiting fellow at Risoe National Lab in Denmark, the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, Tokyo University, NASA Glenn Research Center, and the National Institute for Applied Sciences in Lyon, France. He was invited by the National Academy of Engineering to four Frontiers of Engineering Symposia in the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany.

He received his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1995 and in 1988, respectively. He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Due to continuing obligations with the joint institute, Parker says he plans to start his Virginia Tech appointment in December. Stefan Duma will serve as the interim department head for mechanical engineering for the fall semester.