Parimal Kopardekar (PK) serves as the Director of NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). In that capacity, he is responsible for exploring new trends and needs related to aviation in the areas of autonomy, aeronautics manufacturing, and advanced air mobility. He also serves as NASA's senior technologist for Air Transportation Systems and principal investigator for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) project. He was formerly manager of the NASA’s Safe Autonomous System Operations Project, which developed autonomy related concepts, technologies and architectures that will increase efficiency, safety, and capacity of airspace operations.
Prior to that, he managed Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen) Concepts and Technology Development Project. He enjoys initiating new concepts and technology ideas that increase airspace capacity and throughput, reduce delays, and reduce the total cost of air transportation. At NASA, he has initiated many innovative research projects including reduced crew operations, net-enabled air traffic management, autonomy for airspace operations, Shadow-Mode Assessment using Realistic Technologies for the National Airspace System (SMART NAS), and low-altitude airspace management system focused on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations.
He is the winner of the 2020 NASA Government Invention of the Year and the 2018 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (known as the Oscars for the federal workforce) in the "Promising Innovations" category. In 2017, he was named among the 25 most influential people in commercial drone industry. He has published over 50 conference and journal papers with three best paper awards, delivered more than 20 keynote talks at national and international conferences, and participates as an expert with media on topics related to unmanned aircraft systems, urban air mobility, autonomy, and supply chain management. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and recipient of numerous NASA awards including Outstanding Leadership Medal and Engineer of the Year. He holds a doctorate and master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering and bachelor’s degree in production engineering. He serves as the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Aerospace Operations. He also serves as an adjunct faculty and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to operations management and supply chain management.