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Defense & Security

Arati Prabhakar: Long-term view should guide public-sector investments

The DARPA director says the government has an important role in technology development.

10 June 2013, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201306.02

Arati Prabhakar joined the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a program manager in 1986. 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. She was appointed director of DARPA in July, 2012.

In 1993, President Clinton appointed Prabhakar 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.

She moved to Silicon Valley in 1997, first as 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. She identified and served as a director for startup companies with the promise of significant growth. She worked with entrepreneurs in energy and efficiency technologies, components for consumer electronics, and semiconductor process and design technology.

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.

She was the Symposium-Wide Plenary speaker at SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. She was interviewed in Baltimore for this SPIE Newsroom video.