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Following In His Father’s Footsteps

David Perreault (EE ’89)

David Perreault (EE ’89)
David Perreault (EE ’89)

David Perreault (EE ’89) and his three siblings practically grew up in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. His father, who shares his name, taught at Boston University during the same time his son was first starting school. Some of David’s earliest memories include running around his father’s lab.

It’s no wonder then that David, along with siblings Brian Perreault (CE ’91), Kevin Perreault (CE ’93, MS ’96), and Julie Perreault (EE ’96, MS ’99, PhD ’04), all went on to earn degrees in engineering.

“The fact that we all became engineers is not coincidental. Our dad had a big influence on us,” David said.

Today, David continues to follow his father’s footsteps as an associate professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but before he began teaching, he earned his SM and PhD degrees from MIT.

“The nice thing about BU was that when I graduated, I felt right at home in my new program,” David said. “I didn’t feel underprepared because the curriculum at BU was a pretty good mirror of what we do at MIT.”

And if his personal connection to the university wasn’t already strong enough, he also met his wife, Heidi Nakajima (BME ’87, MS ’91, PhD ’02, MD ’02), as a student.

“When I applied, the university’s tuition remission program was definitely a motivating factor,” said David, who’s referring to the university’s benefit program that offers tuition reimbursement for employees and their dependents taking classes at BU. “I was definitely happy with my decision. The programs were great, my professors have been extremely influential, and I even met my wife here.”

As a BU student, David studied under professors like Moe Wasserman and Mark Horenstein and also grew close with professors like Allyn Hubbard.

“David was a fabulous student, and I’m glad to see he’s gone across the river to do similarly great things at MIT,” said Horenstein.

Added Hubbard: “I remember him well, and he was an excellent student. I heard that he recently received tenure at MIT, and that is no small task.”

While at BU, David also had a chance to take two classes taught by his father.

“That was definitely different,” David said. “He was equally hard on me as he was with his other students, but it was really interesting to see him at work.”

David, whose research interests now include design, manufacturing, and control techniques for power electronic systems and components, researched highly-parallel power converter systems for his doctoral thesis.

As interest in energy, particularly green energy, has grown, so has the demand for research in Perreault’s field, particularly electronic power conversion.

“There’s a big demand for greater changes in energy and as a result, there’s a huge amount of innovation in the field right now,” David said. “It couldn’t be a better time to be involved.”

David is also getting recognized for his work. He received the Richard M. Bass Outstanding Young Power Electronics Engineer Award from the IEEE Power Electronics Society, an ONR Young Investigator Award, and the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. It’s not surprising that he’s loving teaching as much as researching, too.

“I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing for anything,” he said.

Learn more about Perreault’s research.

-Rachel Harrington
December 2010