Rohit Prasad, VP and Head Scientist for Amazon Alexa, Named to Illinois Tech Board Of Trustees

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Alumnus Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Amazon Alexa, has been named to the Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) Board of Trustees. He will join the board for its October 2020 meeting.

Prasad—who leads the Alexa research and development team’s artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—has been a strong supporter of the university’s new College of Computing, which was launched in June, and will play a major role as the college develops its strategic vision as a member of its advisory board. Prasad also serves on the Board of Advisors for Armour College of Engineering's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“As an incoming trustee, a proud alumnus, and a member of the global tech community, I am excited about what the next generation of Illinois Tech students can accomplish to impact the world around them,” Prasad says. “I was fortunate to have the mentoring and training at Illinois Tech to help me pursue my passion, which makes further engagement with my alma mater incredibly rewarding.”

Prasad, whose work at Amazon Alexa aims to improve interaction between users and the personal assistant platform, earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Illinois Tech in 1999. He came to Chicago from India to pursue his interest in the relationship between humans and technology, specifically in the work of an Illinois Tech faculty member researching speech compression and coding.

“Rohit exemplifies the spirit of innovation, creativity, and achievement that represents the Illinois Tech community,” says Alan W. Cramb, Illinois Tech’s president. “As Chicago’s only tech-focused university, our alumni have impacted every aspect of modern technology–from the inventor of the cell phone to one of the people behind Alexa. Rohit’s invaluable insight and expertise is a natural extension of the university’s work to identify opportunities and improve outcomes for students through hands-on learning.”

In 2013 Prasad was recruited by Amazon to be the director of machine learning, where he oversaw speech recognition, natural language understanding, and machine learning science, data, and software teams for revolutionizing how customers interact with various products and services. In his current role as a VP and Head Scientist for Amazon Alexa, Prasad’s focus is on natural language understanding, dialog science, machine reasoning, and underlying machine learning capabilities.

“Rohit has taken his Illinois Tech experience and gone on to perform groundbreaking work that has revolutionized everyday life,” says Peter Kilpatrick, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We look forward to working with Rohit as we evolve our strategic plan, including in his advisory capacity around our new College of Computing, ensuring all Illinois Tech students benefit from a fundamental understanding of computational skills as the foundational facilitator of tomorrow’s job market.”

“We’ve already had great conversations, and I look forward to the role that Rohit will play in advancing the future of Illinois Tech and its College of Computing,” says Lance Fortnow, dean of the College of Computing.

Prior to Amazon, Prasad was deputy manager and senior director of the Speech, Language, and Multimedia Business Unit at Raytheon BBN Technologies. In that role, he directed United States government-sponsored research-and-development initiatives in speech-to-speech translation, psychological health analytics, document image translation, and STEM learning. Prasad is a named author on more than 100 scientific articles and holds several patents.