Electrical Engineering, B.S. – 1979
Arati Prahhakar was born in New Delhi, India. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 1979. Dr. Prabhakar earned her Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 1980 from the California Institute of Technology. In 1984, she became the first woman to receive the Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
It is clear from her quick and sure–paced career that Dr. Prabhakar has the confidence and ability to achieve great things. She credits her mother, Raj Prabhakar, with giving her the necessary motivation and determination. After completing her doctorate, she worked for 2 years as a Congressional Fellow in the Office of Technology Assessment of the United States Congress, where she wrote on microelectronics research and development for the House Science, Research and Technology Subcommittee. In 1986, Dr. Prabhakar began a tenure of 7 years managing technology programs in the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Dr. Prabhakar created the Microelectronics Technology Office to drive research and development of advanced microelectronics technologies critical to national security. In her role as Director of that office, she managed an annual budget of $300 million in contracts and collaborations with numerous organizations. In addition, she was responsible for programs in semiconductor manufacturing technology, including the industrial consortium SEMATECH in Austin, programs in advanced lithography, next–generation devices, optoelectronics, nanoelectronics, neural networks and infrared focal plane arrays.
In 1993, United States President William Clinton appointed Dr. Prabhakar to be the tenth director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This agency is part of the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration and promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards. Since taking office on May 28, 1993, Dr. Prabhakar has worked to make NIST a strong contributor to the competitiveness of civilian industries. She manages a staff of approximately 3,200 and a budget of $600 million. Major programs of NIST are a competitive Advanced Technology Program that provides cost–shared grants to industry for developing high–risk technologies with significant commercial potential; a grassroots Manufacturing Extension Partnership that helps small and medium–sized companies adopt new technologies; research focused on "infrastructural technologies;" and a quality outreach program that oversees the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.
Dr. Prabhakar is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical engineering honorary; Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honorary; and the American Physical Society. She also is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In addition, she has been a recipient of a fellowship from the Bell Laboratories Graduate Research Program for Women and a Congressional Office of Technology Assessment Science Fellowship.
Valued by her staff and peers, Dr. Prabhakar has been noted for "an unusual combination of technical knowledge, entrepreneurial flair, and ability to get things done." It is indeed a great privilege to name Arati Prabhakar a DISTINGUISHED ENGINEER of Texas Tech University.