Next: Breakthrough Technologies for National Security


  • Arati Prabhakar

Abstract: DARPA, established in the wake of Sputnik to prevent technological surprise, has instigated many major defense capabilities that our military has used to reshape U.S. warfighting.  Today, current and potential adversaries ranging from nation states to individuals, all with ready access to powerful commercial technologies, create a national security landscape that poses new, diverse, and fast-changing threats. Severe fiscal pressures mean "more of the same" is not an option for this future.  Working with Science and Technology (S&T) across the Services and with universities, companies, and labs across the country, DARPA is pursuing efforts to catalyze the next generation of air dominance, extract deep insights from enormous masses of data, and even understand and harness that most complex and essential component of the Warfighter, the human brain. Pursuing these and other emerging opportunities and integrating their full impacts into our armamentarium will challenge current approaches to how we buy, deploy, support, and employ our national security and warfighting systems. But that disruption will be modest compared to the disadvantages it will wreak on our adversaries, and a worthy investment to achieve our ongoing goal of protecting against and fostering technological surprise.

About the Speaker: Dr. Arati Prabhakar has spent her career investing in world-class engineers and scientists to create new technologies and businesses. Her first service to national security started in 1986 when she joined DARPA as a program manager. She initiated and managed programs in advanced semiconductor technology and flexible manufacturing, as well as demonstration projects to insert new semiconductor technologies into military systems. As the founding director of DARPA’s Microelectronics Technology Office, she led a team of program managers whose efforts spanned these areas, as well as optoelectronics, infrared imaging and nanoelectronics.

Dr. Prabhakar has served as the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the chief technology officer and senior vice president at Raychem, and later vice president and then president of Interval Research. From 2001 to 2011, she was a partner with U.S. Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm. Dr. Prabhakar received her Doctor of Philosophy in applied physics and Master of Science in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. She received her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University. She began her career as a Congressional Fellow at the Office of Technology Assessment.