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Bradford Parkinson

Bradford Parkinson
Col Bradford Parkinson USAF official photo.png
Born (1935-02-16) February 16, 1935 (age 82)
Madison, Wisconsin
Residence San Luis Obispo, California
Nationality American
Fields Aeronautics
Institutions United States Air Force
Stanford University
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stanford University
Known for Global positioning system
Notable awards Magellanic Premium (1997)
Draper Prize
National Inventors Hall of Fame

Bradford Parkinson (February 16, 1935) is an American engineer and inventor, and United States Air Force colonel best known as the father of the Global Positioning System (along with Roger L. Easton and Ivan A. Getting).

He attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1957, but decided to join the Air Force because of its superior educational opportunities. Parkinson then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his M.S. in Aeronautics, graduating in 1961.

After several years in the Air Force, he entered a Ph. D. program at Stanford University, graduating in 1966. In 1973 he became manager of the NAVSTAR GPS development program, where he remained until 1978 when he retired from the Air Force. In 1984, Parkinson became a professor at Stanford University, where today he is a professor emeritus.

In 2003 he shared the Draper Prize with Ivan A. Getting for his contributions to the invention of the Global Positioning System. In 2004 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2016 he received the Marconi Prize.

Parkinson attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. While studying there, Parkinson discovered he had a deep interest in controls engineering, which was not a research focus of the Navy at that time. Fortunately, one of Parkinson's electrical engineering professors was an Air Force officer, and urged him to consider switching military branches. Parkinson also knew he wanted to get a Ph. D. later in life, and the Air Force was more receptive to graduate and post-graduate education at this time.

After two years in Southeast Asia, he did go to MIT, studying controls engineering, inertial guidance, and electrical engineering. Parkinson worked in the lab of Charles Stark Draper, the namesake for the prestigious Draper Prize which Parkinson went on to win later in his life. He received a Master of Science in Aeronautics in 1961.


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