DARPA - Creating & Preventing Strategic Surprise

Arati Prabhakar

Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ("DARPA") is the primary "innovation engine" of the Department of Defense. It undertakes, supports and directs high-risk, high return projects with potential for game changing impacts. DARPA supports both basic and applied research, advancing knowledge and developing solutions to practical problems, with the aim of both creating strategic surprise for adversaries and preventing strategic surprise to the US to protect our national security. DARPA currently is pursuing this dual mission by activities in six focus areas: the Adaptive Execution Office, the lead office for the deployment of newly developed technology; the Defense Sciences Office, charged with linking fundamental to applied research; the Information Innovation Office, working on information technologies; the Microsystems Technology Office, focusing on electronics, MEMS, computing, photonics and biotechnology; the Strategic Technology Office, responsible for technologies directed to specific strategic areas, and the Tactical Technology Office, centered on high-risk, high-payoff innovation for rapid, mobile, advanced technologies. DARPA projects have created significant strategic breakthroughs for the nation, and its success has led to many attempts at emulation both internationally and here at home. The Director's lecture will relate to DARPA and its activities. The specific subject will be announced at the lecture.

About the Author:

Arati Prabhakar

Arati Prabhakar began her career as a Congressional Fellow with the Office of Technology Assessment. She then joined DARPA as a program manager, where she initiated programs in advanced semiconductor technology and flexible manufacturing, and projects to use the technologies in military systems. She was founding director of the DARPA Microelectronics Technology Office where she led a team of program managers developing advanced technologies in semiconductors, flexible manufacturing, optoelectronics, infrared imaging and nanoelectronics. In 1993 she was appointed Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Subsequently, she served as CTO and Sr. Vice President of Raychem, and President of Interval Research. From 2001 to 2011, prior to her appointment to head DARPA in 2011, she was a Principal of U.S. Venture Partners.

Dr. Prabhakar earned a BS from Texas Tech University and an MS in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology. She has served on the National Academies' Science Technology and Economic Policy Board, the College of Engineering Advisory Board at UC Berkeley, and the red team of DARPA's Defense Sciences Research Council. She chaired the Efficiency and Renewables Advisory Committee for the DOE. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Texas Tech Distinguished Engineer, and a Caltech Distinguished Alumna.

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