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Steven H. Walker Appointed 21st DARPA Director

Nina Welding • DATE: November 9, 2017

The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Ms. Ellen M. Lord, today announced the appointment of Dr. Steven H. Walker as the 21st director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A former DARPA program manager, deputy office director, and office director, Walker has devoted 13 of his more than 30 years of public service to the Agency and been a key figure in advancing the science and technologies associated with hypersonic flight and rapid access to space.

Walker succeeds Dr. Arati Prabhakar, who left the Agency in January 2017 and currently is a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Walker, DARPA deputy director since October 2012, has been serving as acting director in the interim.

Walker began his engineering career in the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Air Vehicles Directorate in Dayton, Ohio, developing thrust vectoring concepts and aero-acoustic prediction methodologies associated with airplane exhaust systems. He subsequent served as program manager of the Unsteady Aerodynamics and Hypersonics Research Program at AFRL's Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va., and special assistant to the director of Defense Research and Engineering at the Pentagon. At DARPA, Walker previously served in the Agency’s Tactical Technology Office in various programmatic and leadership positions, including office director. As a program manager with TTO, he initiated the $500 million DARPA/Air Force Falcon program to develop and flight-test technologies for long-duration hypersonic flight and affordable, responsive space lift.

Prior to his August 2012 return to DARPA, Walker served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Washington, D.C. He was responsible for developing the technology investment strategy for the Air Force's annual $2 billion science and technology program and for providing functional management for more than 14,000 military and civilian scientists and engineers. He provided annual testimony to Congress, technical advice and counsel to the Air Force Acquisition Executive, and Air-Force-relevant science and technology recommendations to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Walker holds a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a master of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton, and a doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Walker is a member of the Senior Executive Service and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and received the AIAA Hap Arnold Award for Excellence in Aeronautical Management. He has also been awarded the Presidential Rank Award, the Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service medal, and the DoD Exceptional, Meritorious, and Distinguished Civilian Service medals.

About DARPA:
Established in 1958 as part of the U.S. Department of Defense, DARPA is designed to anticipate, explore, and achieve the concepts and technology on which the Nation’s future deterrent and defense capabilities depend. It does so collaboratively as part of a robust innovation ecosystem that includes academic, corporate, and governmental partners. And while its focus is always on the Nation’s military Services, which count on DARPA to create new strategic and tactical options, DARPA’s work has historically catalyzed fundamental breakthroughs that have benefited the broader society as well.

The Agency, located in Arlington, Va., supports approximately 210 government employees, about half of whom are program managers. Its research is conducted by a wide array of public- and private-sector performers via 2,000 contracts, grants and other agreements. DARPA’s FY 2017 budget is $2.89 billion.