Pete Petit endows first chair for a research institute at Georgia Tech

May 3, 2011 | Atlanta, GA

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Molly Croft, Director of Development

Parker H. “Pete” Petit, ME 1962, MS EM 1964, is among a handful of Georgia Tech pioneers who recognized very early the vast potential of bioengineering and bioscience, and provided the significant support required for that potential to be realized.
   Twenty-five years ago, Georgia Tech was striving to bring together different academic disciplines in an interdisciplinary way under a nontraditional model, a unique approach that was recognized in a recent National Academy of Sciences report that cited Georgia Tech as one of two institutions in the country that truly live the interdisciplinary model.
   It was during this era that the visionary Petit established the Parker H. Petit Distinguished Chair for Engineering in Medicine in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. A decade later, the Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) was launched with a mission to accelerate Georgia Tech’s move into bio-related research. Soon after, Petit committed an additional $5 million to establish an endowment for IBB. In recognition of Petit’s generosity, IBB was named the Parker H. Petit Institute in Bioengineering and Bioscience.
   Fifteen years after establishing the IBB endowment, Petit is once again leading the way in providing vital support for the life sciences at his alma mater. Petit recently made a commitment that will add significantly to his original 1985 gift that established the Petit Chair for Engineering in Medicine. This dramatically augmented endowment fund will establish the Parker H. Petit Director’s Chair in Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Tech’s first endowed chair designated for a research institute.
   The Director’s Chair is designed to significantly enhance IBB’s ability to attract and retain an eminent researcher-scholar to this position of academic leadership without regard to the academic discipline of 
the incumbent.
   “What started in the mid 1980s as an initial investment on my part has resulted in this amazing program at Georgia Tech,” said Petit. “To see this facility, and the students and faculty and the groundbreaking interdisciplinary research they’re doing in the facility—there’s no other word for it—it’s overwhelming.”
   Petit is chairman and CEO of the Petit Group, an integrated developer, manufacturer, and marketer of patent-protected biomaterial-based products focused on augmenting the repair of traumatized tissues and structures. An exceedingly active alumnus for nearly five decades, Petit serves on the IBB Advisory Board, the Campaign Georgia Tech Steering Committee, and the Alexander-Tharpe Fund Board of Trustees. He is an emeritus member of the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees and has previously served on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board and the Biomedical Engineering Advisory Board.
   Petit’s leadership was recently recognized by two prestigious awards. The first was his election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. He received the NAE honor for developing and manufacturing the first home Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) monitor and for pioneering pediatric healthcare. 
   Petit also received the Regents’ Hall of Fame Alumni Award from the University System of Georgia Foundation Board of Trustees. Both of his alma maters, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University (where he earned an MBA in 1973), nominated him for the award, which recognizes his leadership in the healthcare and biomedical engineering industries and his volunteer leadership and transformative philanthropy at both Georgia Tech and Georgia State.
   “Pete’s past generosity and good will toward Georgia Tech and IBB catalyzed the formation and growth of a unique and thriving bio-community,” said IBB Director Robert E. Guldberg, who will be the first to hold the Petit Director’s Chair in Bioengineering and Bioscience. “Now, he is once again paving the way in support of innovation and interdisciplinary research by providing this unique endowment—the first of its kind on the Georgia Tech campus.”
  Guldberg is widely recognized for his research in biomechanics, biomaterials, and tissue engineering with an emphasis on orthopedic applications. He was recently selected as chair of the National Institutes of Health’s Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering Study Section. A professor of mechanical engineering, he was named IBB director in 2009 after serving as associate director since 2004.

To inquire about making a gift in support of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, contact Director of Development Molly F. Croft at 404.385.0128 or molly.croft@bme.gatech.edu.

 

Author:  Daniel Treadway, Senior Writer/Editor, Georgia Tech Communications & Marketing

 

 

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