Gordon G. Parker Named First John and Cathi Drake Endowed Professor in Mechanical Engineering

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Michigan Technological University alumnus John L. Drake received what he calls “a tremendous education at Michigan Tech, both in mechanical engineering and in business administration.” That education helped him succeed as the founder and chairman of Drake Manufacturing Services. Now he and his wife, Cathi Drake, want to help make a Michigan Tech education even better for future students.

They have pledged $1 million to endow the John and Cathi Drake Endowed Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, including gifts to provide immediate funding of the professorship. “We have been most impressed with the current management and mission of Michigan Tech and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics,” Drake said. “We trust that our support will play a small role in helping new Tech grads achieve the success that we have enjoyed.”

Gordon G. Parker, a professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech since 1996, has been named the first recipient of the Drake Endowed Professorship. Parker is an internationally recognized leader in control systems, particularly their application to naval technology. He has been recognized for his teaching as well as for his research.

“Michigan Tech’s mission is preparing students to create the future,” said President Glenn D. Mroz. “Our vision is to grow as a premier research university of international stature, delivering education, new knowledge, and innovation for the needs of our technological world. This endowed professorship recognizes the inspired teaching and research of its first recipient and will help us achieve that mission and vision.”

William W. Predebon, chair of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, agreed.
“A strong, talented faculty is the lifeblood of a university,” said Predebon. “The very best teachers and researchers attract the very best students.

“Outstanding teaching starts with faculty at the top of their profession, who can excite students to think beyond the lecture and text, and who know how to integrate their research into the classroom.” Predebon continued. “Gordon Parker is such a teacher.”

Before coming to Michigan Tech, Parker worked as an aerospace engineer and a senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratory. He earned the Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001 and the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award in 2003. Parker has received more than $4 million in research funding from government and industry.

His BS in Systems Engineering is from Oakland University, his MS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics is hosting a reception to honor Parker, from 5 to 6:30 pm Thursday in the Red Metal Room 105 of the Memorial Union Building. Refreshments will be served.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.