Victoria Stavridou-Coleman has been appointed as the new director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Hailing from Greece, she is one of the few foreign-born people leading the military’s secretive band of futuristic scientists, at a time when there is an urgent need to bring military software into the 21st century.
She’s held top positions at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, Silicon Valley startup Atlas AI, the Wikimedia Foundation, and household names such as Yahoo and Samsung.
Victoria Stavridou-Coleman is the third woman to lead the agency since it was founded in 1958.
According to Air Force Magazine, ‘Coleman is taking the helm in an era when the Pentagon’s push to accelerate research and development is a central piece of its global competition strategy. From hypersonic weapons to quantum computing, her challenge will be to find areas where no one else is exploring, and to anticipate how DOD’s tech priorities might evolve over the coming decades.’
“DARPA is in the business of systematic changemaking, not just about discovering what the new breakthrough might be,” Coleman said. “It’s also about being there and seeing it over the line.”
After becoming the first in her family to attend college, Coleman wants to use her prestigious post to offer others like her the same opportunities.
“If I can do this, how many other kids like me believe that they can do it, too?” she said. “There’s something magical about a country that makes opportunities like being the director of DARPA available to people like me.”
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.
Currently, their mission statement is “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security”.