He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (2006) for contributions to computer systems, distributed systems, and content-distribution networks.
Kaashoek received his MA in 1988 and his Ph.D degree in Computer Science in 1992 from the Vrije Universiteit under supervision of Andy Tanenbaum for the thesis "Group communication in distributed computer systems."
In 1993 Kaashoek was appointed Charles Piper Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Kaashoek was awarded among others the NSF national young investigator award in 1994 and the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in 2010. In 2004 he was elected ACM Fellow, and in 2006 he became a member of the NAE.
Kaashoek's research interest are in the fields of "computer systems: operating systems, networking, programming languages, compilers, and computer architecture for distributed, mobile, and parallel systems."
In 1998 Kaashoek co-founded SightPath, a software company that developed software products for digital distribution. It was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2000. In the early 2000s Kaashoek assisted in the founding of Mazu Networks Inc. and served as board member until it was acquired by Riverbed Technology in 2009.