Vazken L. Parsegian was born in Van, Turkish Armenia in 1908. His father Sahag has
immigrated to the United States in the year 1912 while mother served as a cook in the
hospital ran by Dr. Clarence Usher. In the summer of 1915 joining the hundred and
thousands of refugees fleeing Turkey from the massacres, arrived Yerevan, (capital of
Armenia) and in October 15, 1916 settled in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
As with many
emigrants filled with enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed, he began to work as
mechanic in a car repair shop. Later, following to an advice from a teacher who had
brought his car, he attended the Lowell Institute School. Upon graduation he applied
for study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT (B.S., 1933) was followed by
studies in nuclear physics at New York University (Ph.D., 1948).
His first twelve
years were in industrial research and engineering departments. Then for nearly five
years he was Director of Research with the New York Operations Office on the U.S.
Atomic Energy Commission. In 1954 he joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as Dean
of the School of Engineering, and in 1961 was appointed to the distinguished Chair of
Rensselaer Professor to develop interdisciplinary educational programs. Dr. Parsegian
was closely involved with national nuclear policy issues, including a debate with
Admiral Lewis L. Strauss, head o f the Atomic Energy Commission, on the harmful
effect of secrecy (The New York Times Sunday Magazine of October 14, 1956).
nine years with the nuclear and science committees of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of
formulation of national policy on atomic energy, with appearances before the joint
Committee on Atomic Energy of the Congress. He as been Consultant to the colleges of
the State University of New York, and to the General Electric Company’ project on
nuclear power for aircraft. On invitation from President Victor Hambartsumian of the
Academy of Sciences of Armenian, in 1962 he was an Exchange Scientist of the U.S.
National Academy of Scenes and of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.
with the Visiting Committee of the Department of Psychology of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and was a member of the Central Committee of the Armenian
General Benevolent Union of America for many years. He is a member of the Board of
Directors of the Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation. In 1967 he and his
friends founded the Friends of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which he
has served as President and Honorary President to the present time.
Dr. Parsegian has
published many articles and books. He was Consulting Editor for an Academic Press
series on Nuclear Science and Technology, and for the Journal of College Science
Teaching. He directed a large project which produced textbooks that integrated the
physical and life sciences in two volumes (Introduction to Natural Science, Academic
Press, 1968, 1970). He is the author of
Industrial Management in the Atomic Age
(Addison Wesley, 1965), and of
This Cybernetic World
(Doubleday, 1972) which was
translated into German and Japanese editions. He is listed in the marquis
in the World
World Who’s Who in Science from Antiquity to the Present
, and others.
He became Rensselaer Professor Emeritus in 1975, but continued at RPI on various
Armenian Projects. In 1966 with Friends he had organized the Armenian Educational
Council inc., and has served as its Chairman to the present time.
initiated an Oral History project with individuals who had survived the massacres.
When in 1970 he met Dr. Armen Haghnazarian of the Germany group called Research on
Armenian Architecture the two organizations initiated a twenty year international
project to assemble and archival collection on Armenian Architecture. Centered at the
School of Architecture of RPI, the project is now completed, with the collection
holding 42,999 photographs and documentation in microfiche, on some941 sites and
monuments in Armenia, Turkey, Karabagh, Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan, Iran Georgia, and
the Crimea. Its seven volumes are resource for research in over 100 major research
libraries of Europe in the United States. The Council is currently engaged in seeking
international protection for the monuments that remain in Turkey, and in aiding the
scientific and industrial development of Armenia. In his
Rights & Genocide, 1975: the Hope, the Reality and Still the Hope
book he discusses Human Rights violations against Armenian nation.