Ares Rosakis graduated from Athens College, a Greek-American high school in June of 1975. In September of 1975, he moved to the United Kingdom to attend University College Oxford and to study engineering science. He received his bachelor's (B.A.) and Master's of Arts (M.A.) degrees from Oxford University in 1978 and 1986 respectively. He went on to earn his ScM. (1980) and PhD (1982) degrees in Engineering (solid mechanics and structures) from Brown University. He joined the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as an assistant professor in 1982 as the Institute's youngest tenure track faculty member. He was promoted to the ranks of associate and full professor in 1988 and 1993 respectively. In 2004, he was named the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. In 2013, he was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science.
Since 2009, he has served as the Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) at Caltech. This position is the equivalent to that of "Dean" of the school of engineering in other major universities. Prior to being the Division Chair, of EAS, he served as the fifth Director (department head in other institutions) of the historic Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) formerly, known as the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories.
In 2005, Rosakis was a Visiting Professor in the Department Terre Atmosphére-Océan, École Normale Supérieure Paris, France. In 2008, he was awarded the Astor Visiting Professorship by the University of Oxford and was asked to serve as a presidential nominee to the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also a past Chairman of the Fracture & Failure Mechanics Committee of the Applied Mechanics Division (AMD) of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a Fellow of ASME, of SEM, and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences. He is also a past Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Applied Mechanics Division (AMD) of ASME, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Rosakis has been honored with many recognitions in mechanics, in aerospace and in materials failure including the 1989 Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize from the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE) and with various prizes awarded by the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM). These include the 1992 Hetényi Award, the 1996 B. L. Lazan Award, and the 2003 Frocht Award. In 2005 the same society selected him to become the William M. Murray Medalist and Lecturer for his life-long contributions to the development and application of advanced methods for accurate measurement of transient, dynamic phenomena. In 2007, he received the Harting Award (SEM). In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). In 2010, he was awarded the Brown Engineering Alumnus Medal (BEAM) and the Robert Henry Thurston Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 2011, he received the A.C. Eringen Medal from the Society of Engineering Science (SES) and he was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In 2012, he was appointed Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the Republic of France. In 2013, he received the P.S. Theocaris Award from the Society of Experimental Mechanics for his lifelong contribution to experimental science and mechanics, he was elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea), and most recently he was elected Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE).
Rosakis presides over the largest of the six academic divisions at Caltech with more than a third of the Institute’s faculty and forty percent of the entire student and postdoctoral fellow population. The EAS division is an elite organization which has been highly ranked by both US and International bodies including The Times Higher Education World University's rankings. For the last three years they ranked Caltech as No.1 in the specific subject of Engineering and Technology with a substantial margin above its usual international competitors next in line. They also rank Caltech, as a whole, as the No.1 university in the world. Seven percent of the division's professional faculty are holders of the US National Medal of Science or the National Medal of Technology, thirty percent of the faculty are members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) ten percent are members of the National Academy of Science and fifteen percent are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).
Between 2004 and 2009, Rosakis served as the fifth Director of GALCIT. This historic organization was established by Theodore von Kármán, the world renowned engineer, who was GALCIT's first Director. GALCIT is also the mother institution of Caltech's NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Eighty years after its founding and during the second year of Rosakis' directorship, GALCIT regained its position as the 1st ranked aerospace department in the US (US News and World Report), sharing this place with MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a department roughly 5 times its size. GALCIT continues to retain this ranking to this date. GALCIT boasts a number of illustrious alumni who have had worldwide impact in academia, science and technology and politics. Among them are the father of the modern Chinese Space Program, former GALCIT professor, Tsien Hsue-Shen, and Indian Aerospace Research pioneer Professor Shatish Dhawan.