ARPA-E’s mission is to accelerate a sustainable energy future through the development of groundbreaking technologies that support its energy and emissions focused mission. Leading the charge are our Program Directors (PDs)—who are energy visionaries with the experience, passion, and skill to transform the energy landscape as we know it. During their ARPA-E terms, Program Directors have access to the resources and support required to tackle the big problems in new ways—perhaps creating a chain reaction that alters the world.
As an agency, ARPA-E values inclusivity, collegiality, flexibility, creativity, sustainability, and a passion for its energy mission, while striving to be a “flat organization” with a limited management hierarchy.
Who should be a Program Director?
By design, ARPA-E Program Directors don’t fit a template. We want the creative thinkers, inventive problem solvers, and get-your-hands-dirty doers with the vision to see problems, the expertise to conceive solutions, and the willpower to foster their development through to success—or failure. Program Directors must be able, and willing, to be visionaries, coaches, CEOs, and adventurers— occasionally all at once.
ARPA-E Program Directors must have…
An ARPA-E Program Director is selected, in large part, based on their technical expertise. To trail-blaze into the unknown, they need to have an expert understanding of the current state of the art. Program Directors need to know and understand what’s been done before, why it did or didn’t work, and how this history impacts what can be accomplished going forward.
The Will to Win
“Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Edison can be a polarizing figure, but the wisdom of this quote stands the test of time. ARPA-E Program Directors must have the drive, focus, and perseverance to advance through obstacles, challenges, and critics – letting the science be the ultimate judge of what works and what doesn’t.
Curiosity and Flexibility
ARPA-E Program Directors are experts in their field who are smart enough to know that they don’t know everything. Like any successful trailblazer, they constantly look for new paths to their destination and will follow the road where it takes them, not just where they expect it to go. ARPA-E project teams purposely go where the established science doesn’t, so Program Directors need to do the same.
Rigor and Honesty
ARPA-E Program Directors have access to an impressive array of resources to pursue their transformative ideas, but such access comes with the responsibility of unwavering technical honesty and full scientific rigor. Program Directors work with their project teams to establish and attain technical program milestones and must remain fully transparent with their successes or failures along the way, in order to effectively position their work for successful commercialization and impact.