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DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins Earns 2023 Wash100 Award for Driving Agency Initiatives, Empowering Next Generation of Innovators

Executive Mosaic is excited to honor Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with her second Wash100 Award for her incredible success in spearheading agency initiatives, championing innovation and working to cultivate the next generation of technology leaders.

Each year, the Wash100 Award highlights the most influential leaders in the government contracting industry following an intense selection process. Its 10th anniversary cohort is a prime example of the elite level of talent recognized by the award, which represents the highest acclaim for executives in the field.

A reflection of the distinguished 2023 Wash100 class, Tompkins carries extensive experience in the science and technology field. She previously spent 10 years at Science Applications International Corp., where she conducted a variety of research projects, and over a decade at DARPA prior to a hiatus from the agency.

When appointed to her current role in March 2021, Tompkins expressed her excitement to return to an organization “where breakthrough technologies are a near-daily occurrence.”

“Such breakthroughs could not be more consequential for our national security, economic competitiveness and our personal lives,” she emphasized.

As director of DARPA, Tompkins has pushed a number of initiatives forward while working to uphold the agency’s culture. In 2022, Tompkins continued to shine as she established multiple new programs to promote the advancement of emerging technologies while paving multiple pathways for future innovators to achieve success.

In October, the agency launched its new Advanced Research Concepts program, which allows scientists to propose research ideas to be swiftly evaluated for potential contract awards.

Tompkins stressed the “incredibly dynamic” nature of the world and the ongoing acceleration of technological developments and threats. DARPA is “structured to always adjust and readjust” to stay on top of potential changes, she said in the announcement

“Status quo is a losing strategy. We need to explore many topics to find those rare DARPA ideas that could result in new, game-changing technologies for U.S. national security,” Tompkins added.

Earlier last year, the agency introduced its DARPA Innovation Fellowship Program, an initiative dedicated to empowering early-career scientists by allowing them to create and manage a portfolio of technology research and development projects for the Department of Defense.

Tompkins described the program as a way for fellows to “push the limits of existing technology through rapid exploration and analysis of a high volume of promising new ideas.”

Her push to connect innovators and propel their ideas forward also included the DARPA Forward conference series, which was run in partnership with six prominent research and development universities. Each conference hosted a variety of expert speakers and interested attendees to connect DARPA with new talent and “energize regional and national innovation ecosystems.”

“We want people to take from these events a desire to help change the world for the better and to know working with DARPA is a tangible way to do it,” said Tompkins.

The director has also made strides in expanding DARPA’s Embedded Entrepreneurship Initiative to facilitate collaboration between entrepreneurs and DARPA teams to speed up the production of new innovations.

According to Tompkins, who discussed the initiative at the Defense One Tech Summit in June 2022, the EEI has supported 30 companies and is in the process of expanding to fund 150 research teams.

While the Wash100 Award evaluates the past accomplishments of its winners, it also looks toward the expected future contributions of each remarkable executive.

Already, DARPA has continued its momentum from last year into 2023. Last month, the agency announced a new program, called Pipelined Reasoning of Verifiers Enabling Robust Systems, that will explore how mathematically rigorous techniques could support software development and security processes.

Under Tompkins’ impressive leadership, Executive Mosaic anticipates another monumental year for DARPA.

Executive Mosaic thanks and congratulates Stefanie Tompkins and the DARPA team for their 2023 Wash100 Award win.

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