Indian American Arati Prabhakar Becomes Pentagon’s DARPA Director

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Washington DC – The Obama Administration has appointed an Indian American to run the top research agency of the Pentagon, according to the US Department of Defense.

Arati Prabhakar, a former venture capitalist and a veteran of the agency, will be taking over as the next director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on July 30, 2012, said Eric T. Mazzacon, DARPA Public Affairs Officer, in an email to India America Today.

According to US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Frank Kendall, “Dr. Prabhakar has spent her career advancing technology in support of both national security and the private sector, from early research and development through production.”

Noting Prabhakar’s earlier work with the agency, Kendall said she served, “from 1986 to 1993 at DARPA, first as a program manager and then as founding director of the Microelectronics Technology Office. In 1993, President Clinton appointed Dr. Prabhakar as the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she led the 3,000-person organization in its work with companies across multiple industries.”

In 2001, Prabhakar joined US Venture Partners, an early‐stage venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California. As a partner at USVP until 2011, she worked with Cleantech and IT entrepreneurs to help build new companies.

“Dr. Prabhakar¹s Department of Defense and leadership experience, when coupled with her experience with technical communities in Silicon Valley and beyond, make her the ideal candidate to continue DARPA¹s impressive track record of success,” added Kendall.

Having come to the US at the age of three, Prabhakar grew up in Texas and received her B.S. in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University, an M.S. in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a Caltech Distinguished Alumna.

DARPA’s mission, according to their website, “is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research bridging the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use.” Established in 1958, Darpa’s research and technology developments include the fields of medicine, computer science, chemistry, physics, engineering, and social sciences. The agency’s innovations include the creation of global positioning systems (GPS) and computer networking and internet technologies. Prabhakar is only the second woman to head up the agency. (IATNS)

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