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DOD R&E Leader Heidi Shyu Clinches 3rd Wash100 Award for Technological Pursuits, Accelerating Modernization

Executive Mosaic is excited to recognize the impressive achievements of Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, with the 2023 Wash100 Award. Shyu earns the distinction — her third win total and second consecutive — due to a persistent support of technological modernization through dogged organizational maneuvers and cross-industry initiatives.

At 10 years old, the Wash100 Award is now a resource for familiarizing oneself with the most distinguished names in government contracting and the federal sector as well as, for its current class, a forward-looking celebration of those poised to accomplish the most in the coming year. Recipients of the award are inarguably the foremost leaders in their field. They are bastions of vision, reliability, innovation and routinely make a sizable impact on GovCon and U.S. national security.

Join in the fun and vote for your 10 favorite 2023 Wash100 awardees today in our highly competitive popular vote contest. Browse the list and cast your votes at Wash100.com!

Shyu undeniably meets and exceeds these standards in her multifaceted duties as both USDR&E and as chief technology officer for the Department of Defense. Her responsibilities include defining and executing the technology mission of all Pentagon entities and she presides over the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Innovation Unit, the Missile Defense Agency and the DOD Laboratory and Engineering Center enterprise.

“Heidi is the principal advocate in the DOD for smaller contractors with game-changing technologies, providing support to those contractors as they traverse the ‘valley of death’ waiting for funding that moves on government time. Heidi changes processes so the government can take advantage of new technologies in an accelerated fashion. She puts her money where the DOD’s mouth is,” said Jim Garrettson, CEO of Executive Mosaic and founder of the Wash100 Award.

Shyu began 2022 with a decisive move in January, helping to open the DOD University Consortium for Cybersecurity, which is based at both the National Defense University’s College of Information and Cyberspace in Washington, D.C. and the the Center for Secure and Dependable Systems at the University of Idaho. The consortium, dubbed UC2, will foster links between DOD and the academy, with a particular focus on community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities and research-focused schools. A dialogue on cybersecurity matters will be the focus.

“Diversity of ideas will create the best innovation,” Shyu remarked.

In February 2022, Shyu issued a new science and technology strategy through her office that was positioned to guide DOD components to evolve tools and gain the technological upper hand against competitors. The strategy covers 14 focus points that fall under three broader categories: seed areas of emerging opportunity, effective adoption areas defense-specific areas. Among the 14 concentrations are quantum science, trusted AI and autonomy, microelectronics, future generation or Future G and hypersonics and integrated sensing.

Shyu noted the plan is intended to enable “novel mechanisms and alternative pathways to rapidly field technologies,” adding that, “by focusing efforts and investments into these 14 critical technology areas, the Department will accelerate transitioning key capabilities to the Military Services and Combatant Commands.”

The DOD CTO continued her efforts to help accelerate technology prototyping and experimentation into realized capabilities with an organizational realignment within the department in May. The former three directors of defense research and engineering were rechristened as deputy chief technology officers. Their duties include leading highly consequential technology research, mission integration and coordination with military branches in order to facilitate a smooth transition from the lab to the warfighter.

“Taken holistically, these changes will posture our organization to work at speed and increase collaboration both inside and outside the Department,” Shyu shared.

Other significant milestones reached by Shyu and her team over the course of the year include: the funding of a group of 10 projects under the Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies pilot program in July; sponsorship of the Task Force on Strategic Operations within the Defense Science Board to assist in weapon system identification and operational concept development (also in July); and continued work under the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve Program, yet another endeavor centered around bolstering the lab to battlefield pipeline for new technologies.

We congratulate Heidi Shyu and the entire Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering on their 2023 Wash100 Award and look forward to watching as they break new ground in the year to come.

Heidi Shyu will deliver a keynote address at the Potomac Officers Club’s 9th Annual Defense Research and Development Summit, scheduled to take place on March 23 at Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park in Virginia. Click here to register.

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