WASHINGTON — Steven Walker, the 21st director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, announced his resignation on Tuesday, which will be effective Jan.10, 2020, Defense News has learned.
Walker will move on to a position in industry, though a DARPA spokesman did not reveal where. DARPA Deputy Director Peter Highnam, a former director of research at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, will assume the role of acting director until a permanent director is appointed. Highnam is also a former director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.
DARPA is responsible for driving development of emerging technologies for use by the military. Walker and Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the internet, spoke to Defense News about that role in March, and how DARPA can support engagement with the tech community.
Among the key efforts launched under Walker’s tenure at DARPA was development and fielding of the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, which was accomplished in half the time of a normal development program, DARPA noted in an email.
Walker also reinvigorated the agency’s hypersonic weapons and space efforts, with major programs in boost-glide and air-breathing missile development as well as distributed low-Earth orbit satellite constellations.
Also noted by the agency: Under Walker’s leadership, DARPA launched the three-year, $1.5 billion Electronics Resurgence Initiative as well as the five-year, $2 billion AI Next program. Walker also “made pivotal investments in the realm of engineered biology, resulting in several breakthroughs, chief among them a program that has helped reduce Ebola fatality rates by more than 70 percent,” the email stated.
Walker succeeded Arati Prabhakar, who left the agency in January 2017.
Jill Aitoro is editor of Defense News. She is also executive editor of Sightline Media's Business-to-Government group, including Defense News, C4ISRNET, Federal Times and Fifth Domain. She brings over 15 years’ experience in editing and reporting on defense and federal programs, policy, procurement, and technology.