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Rao Mannepalli

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Rao is currently working as the Chief Scientist of Leidos, USA. He has more than 30 years of international, multi-industry and multi-cultural experience as Division Head, Program Manager, Chief Engineer, Chief Scientist, Chief Architect, and Principal Developer at Leidos, Raytheon, US Navy, Lockheed Martin, Bell Labs, and Indian Space Research Organization ( ISRO).

He has 24 inventions in the areas of routing in optical networks, capacity and performance improvements, ballistic missile defense, sensors, signal processing, solar power plant design, energy dispatch algorithms, better driving directions, preventing suicide car bombings, prevention of pandemics like H1N1, identity theft prevention, and others. He authored more than 180 papers. Presented keynote lectures at international conferences. Served as the Editor of IEEE’s Aerospace Electronics and Systems Magazine (Satellites, Modelling & Simulation, and Energy).

He is a Member of the Defense Acquisition Corps (DAC). “DAC is an elite group of highly qualified DOD acquisition professionals with skills and attributes required to fill Critical Acquisition Positions (CAP) and Key Leadership Positions (KLP) of Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP) like Program Manager of ACAT-ID, Chief Engineer, Chief Scientist, or Science & Technology Manager of ACAT-ID Weapons programs.” He was interviewed at Pentagon (finalist) for the job of Chief Systems Engineer of Army, Office of Chief Systems Engineer (OCSE) reporting to Assistant Secretary of Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASN- ALT). He is a DOD certified Systems Engineer, Science and Technology Manager and Program Manager.

One of his inventions is termed by Mr. George P. Sutton, Executive Director of Rocketdyne (during Apollo Moon Landing Program), Chief Scientist of DARPA, Professor at MIT and Caltech, and the author of the most respected textbook ‘Rocket Propulsion Elements‘ - which for more than 60 years has been regarded as the single most authoritative source book on rocket propulsion technology - as ‘An Original Contribution to Rocket Science’. Rao helped Mr. Sutton in bringing out the 9th edition of his iconic textbook. Two of Rao’s inventions (Rao’s method and Chord-midpoint method) are references for this book.

He identified an error in the Guinness book of records regarding the highest sound level produced in the world (by NASA during the static firing of Saturn-V Rocket first stage engines during the Apollo  Moon landing program) and got it removed from the record book.

At Bell Labs, he studied the software development process, identified the root causes, suggested improvements and documented them in “How can we achieve Level-3 on SEI’s CMM with simple process improvements that can save $640 million/year and add $0.32 to Lucent’s EPS”. It has become a classic (“Rao’s Mythical Man Month”). F. P. Brooks, the author of the ‘Mythical Man Month’ and the father of IBM-360, termed them as “Exceedingly valuable to Lucent.” . He is a quality evangelist and routinely offers $5/bug in the systems developed by him and his team (and never had to pay even once in 8 years). He is a champion of ZDD (Zero-Defect-Delivery) which is not a Rocket Science.

He is a Fellow of Royal Aeronautical Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Astronautical Society of India, Institution of Engineering and Technology, Council of Vibration Professionals, Institution of Engineers; Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers; Distinguished Scientist, ACM (‘for significant contributions to almost all the technologies that constitute Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), including Rao’s Method an original contribution to Rocket Science’) and Chair of Distinguished Member selection committee; Associate Fellow AIAA, Eminent Engineer, Tau Beta Pi Path Finder, Lucent Technologies; Chartered Engineer (CEng), Professional Engineer (PE); US President Volunteer Service Awards: Gold (2020, 2019, 2011, 2010), Silver (2018, 2009), and Bronze (2017, 2008)

His education includes: M.S (Computer Science), B.E (Electronics), B.S (Physics) and Executive Education at MIT and Wharton Business School. He mentored a large number of engineers, scientists, and managers. Helped 11 team members to become first time inventors and 25, first time authors.

  • 2024-2026 Distinguished Lecturer
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