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A Road Less Traveled

Engineer David Frakes’ journey from Wall Street to Silicon Valley and back to Tech

Atlanta, GA
David Frakes

David Frakes

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David Frakes’ brand-new biomedical engineering lab might currently be sitting empty, but he has big plans for it. Soon it will be filled with computers, flow loops, 3D printers, students and fresh ideas. Frakes, who has four degrees from Georgia Tech's College of Engineering – a B.S. in electrical, a master’s in mechanical, another master’s in electrical, and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering – has returned to Tech as an associate professor. He intends to focus on medical devices and computer vision and work with other researchers at Tech to create a more interdisciplinary lab that runs like a startup.

Frakes has a unique story that ultimately brought him back to Tech. He has pivoted between industry and academia for the past 25 years, with a few stops in the startup world along the way. After finishing his degree programs at Tech in 2003, he worked on Wall Street for a few years, but returning to research was always in the back of his mind. So, after working in the financial sector, he was ready to return to academia. An opportunity opened up at Arizona State University (ASU), where Frakes taught and ran a research lab. Seven years into his work at ASU, he took a sabbatical to work at Google, where he stayed for five years. And now, finally, he is back in academia at Tech. That’s Frakes’ journey in a nutshell, but what really drives him is a passion to make an impact.

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Last revised September 1, 2020