Donald Fraser graduated MIT with a Bachelor and Masters degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1962 and 1963, respectively. He received a Doctorate in Instrumentation from MIT in 1967. During his studies, between 1962 and 1966, Fraser worked as a research and teaching assistant at MIT and the Instrumentation Lab (now Draper). After receiving his doctorate, he moved to full time at the Lab working in computer science. He joined the design team for the Apollo control system. He started working on the flight controls for the Command, Service, and Lunar Modules; determining it was possible for the engine on the Service Module to be digitally controlled by the Apollo Guidance Computer aboard the Command Module.
After the moon landing in 1969, Fraser became Leader of the Control and Flight Dynamic Division and was responsible for all the Apollo, and later Space Shuttle, flight control systems. He also directed the development of advanced fault-tolerant technology and made significant contributions to the development of digital autopilot and digital fly-by-wire technologies.
Fraser moved on to become Vice President of Technical Operations for Draper Laboratories in 1981, Executive Vice President in 1988, and then Chief Operating Officer. From 1993-1994 he served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under the first Bush Administration. He launched the Photonics Center at Boston University, serving as its Director until 2006. Fraser is also an Honorary Fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.