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Dr. Kaigham (Ken) J. Gabriel is acting director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Dr. Gabriel was sworn in as the deputy director of DARPA in July of 2009. Founded in 1958 as a response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, DARPA’s mission is to prevent and create strategic surprise. From its founding more than 50 years ago to current day, this mission implies one imperative for the Agency: radical innovation for national security. Today, DARPA is the principal agency within the Department of Defense for research, development, and demonstration of high-risk, high-payoff projects for the current and future combat force.
Dr. Gabriel previously served at DARPA between 1992 and 1997. In 1992, he was recruited to start the Agency’s Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) program and grew the effort to more than $80 million annually with more than 70 projects. He was promoted to director of the Electronics Technology Office (1996–1997), where he was responsible for nearly $450 million annually in electronics technology programs including advanced lithography, electronics packaging, MEMS, optoelectronics, millimeter and microwave integrated circuits, and high-definition displays. Prior to DARPA, Dr. Gabriel was the founder, chairman, and chief technical officer of Akustica, a semiconductor company commercializing MEMS sensors for consumer electronics products. Akustica, based in the United States with a global supply chain and customer base, pioneered the use of digital silicon microphones and shipped more than five million units to the PC/notebook industry prior to being acquired in 2009.
Widely regarded as the architect of the MEMS industry, Dr. Gabriel was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2003, one of 40 selected worldwide. He is the co-founding executive director of the MEMS Industry Group, the principal trade organization representing the MEMS industry globally. An international lecturer on innovation and technology development, Dr. Gabriel holds an S.M. and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.