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CHIPS Articles: A child of the Cold War, DARPA enters its 7th decade focused on tech superiority for national security

A child of the Cold War, DARPA enters its 7th decade focused on tech superiority for national security
By CHIPS Magazine - February 8, 2018
On Feb. 7, 1958, four months after the Soviet Union boosted the intensity of the Cold War by launching humanity’s first satellite, then Secretary of Defense Neil McElroy established the Advanced Research Projects Agency with the mandate: “to provide within the Department of Defense an agency for the direction and performance of certain advanced research and development projects.”

To that end for the past 60 years, the DARPA has become widely known as a driver of technological developments that have girded national security in the areas of stealth, precision munitions, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Technology breakthroughs that sometimes have transformed daily civilian life. Who can forget that DARPA launched the internet, miniaturized GPS, and emerging fleets of driverless vehicles, according to a DARPA release.

“As we at DARPA move into our seventh decade of anticipating the technological curves that matter to national security, we will take strength from the thousands of forward-looking men and women who preceded us at the Agency,” said Dr. Steven Walker, DARPA’s 21st Director, during a small celebration today for DARPA staff at the Agency’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. “It will be our calling in the coming years to catalyze innovation throughout the technoscape, whether in longstanding technological traditions like electronics, propulsion, and materials science or in emerging trajectories such as artificial intelligence, neurotechnology, biological technologies, and, of course, all of those not-yet-imagined territories.”

DARPA released a timeline marking its many achievements: to celebrate its anniversary. DARPA’s media team has been chronicling moments of the Agency’s history on DARPA’s Twitter and Facebook pages and will continue do so throughout 2018.

DARPA announced the capstone of its 60th-year will take place in early September at a many-faceted symposium dubbed D60: Breakthrough Technology | Past, Present, Future. The institutional goals of the event ( are to strengthen and expand DARPA’s innovation ecosystem, which includes academia, industry and government partners, inform stakeholders about DARPA’s vision and priorities, and learn from the Agency’s ongoing record of achievements and experience in the challenges of rendering not-yet technology into here-now technology.

General registration for the event opens on April 16, 2018. Taking place from September 5-7 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland the D60 symposium will feature:

Plenary Sessions – These six sessions will be hosted respectively by each of the agency’s six technical offices and each will feature a major office highlight

Technical Office Sessions – Learn more about each office’s technological thrust areas, the great work the offices are doing, and what they are looking to do next

Technical Breakout Sessions – These mini-symposia on a wide range of national security, technological, institutional, societal, and other relevant topics will feature a variety of panelists including DARPA program managers, DARPA alumnae, and industry partners

Program Demonstrations/Exhibits – This interactive experience will highlight major program achievements of each of DARPA’s technical offices

DARPA Riser Presentations – Poster sessions by the next generation of innovators

Historical Displays and Artifacts – Highlights from DARPA’s storied past

“To ensure that our warfighters can win any fight now and in the future, Secretary Mattis and Deputy Secretary Shanahan have prioritized modernization,” Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ms. Ellen Lord, said today during a 60th Anniversary ceremony at the Agency’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. “DARPA—with its mission to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security—is integral to this modernization charge.”

DARPA's 60th anniversary logo
DARPA's 60th anniversary logo
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