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Heidi Shyu: A Trailblazer in Defense Technology

Heidi Shyu: A Trailblazer in Defense Technology

Ms. Heidi Shyu is the current Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. In this position, she acts as the Chief Technology Officer for the DoD, tasked with ensuring technological superiority of the United States military. Aside from being responsible for the research and development, she is tasked with prototyping activities across the entire Department of Defense enterprise. 


Other responsibilities Ms. Shyu is undertaking include overseeing all activities of the following:


Heidi Shyu: Roots
Image from BAE Systems


Heidi Shyu: Roots 

Heidi Shyu was born in Taipei, Taiwan on September 28, 1953. She was born into a nationalistic family with a historian as a father and a grandfather who served as an warplane pilot in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. Both elders, born on the Chinese Mainland, fled to the island of Taiwan after the fall of the Kuomintang.

Educational background of Heidi Shyu

Heidi Shyu earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Science in Mathematics from the University of Toronto. She continued her studies to earn her Masters in Electrical Engineering from UCLA, and eventually obtained an advanced academic degree in Engineering from the same university.


Career Highlights of Heidi Shyu


Career Highlights of Heidi Shyu
Image from Flickr


Ms. Shyu has had a long career in the US government. Here we’re going to discuss only some of her past positions. 

As an engineer, Heidi Shyu started her career at Hughes Aircraft then moved on to work with defense contractor Litton Industries and aircraft manufacturer Grumman. Later on, she took on several key roles at Raytheon starting as a Laboratory Manager for Electromagnetic Systems to Vice President for Space and Airborne Systems. 

Ms. Heidi Shyu was nominated twice by two US Presidents in two top positions. She outshined other candidates due to her proven expertise in specific scopes where national defense is concerned.

In February of 2012, Pres. Barack Obama nominated Ms. Shyu for the role of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology in the Department of Defense. Her nomination was confirmed by the Senate via voice vote on Sept. 22, 2012. She held the position until the 30th of January, 2016.

Then, on the 27th of April, 2021, she was again nominated by Pres. Joe Biden for Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. On July 22, 2021, the Senate officially confirmed her nomination, again, via voice vote. She began with her new assignment on the 25th of July 2021. 


Heidi Shyu to Speak at the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit 


Heidi Shyu to Speak at the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit
Image from Air & Space Forces Magazine



Wednesday, January 31, 2024

7:00am – 4:00pm

Eastern Time Zone

Venue will be announced at a later date


At the Potomac Officer Club’s Annual Defense R&D Summit, foremost experts, defense leaders, decision makers, and researchers, and decision makers convene to exchange ideas on the latest developments in state-of-the-art technology for the U.S. military. These key players in the field of national defense and security share the top research and development priorities of the government.


If you wish to join this annual event you can click here to register. You may opt to become a member of the elite Potomac Officers Club to get first hand news across the defense landscape.


Heidi Shyu: Outlining strategies for modernization


Heidi Shyu once said that in order “to prepare the Army for tomorrow, the seeds must be planted today.” 

She added: “We’re navigating a very challenging period for our Army – the drawdown forces are occurring during a period of dramatic fiscal constraint and budget pressure. We’re leveraging this period to make the best investments possible, planting the seeds that will secure the Army of the future. Our predecessors faced similar challenges following previous conflicts. It’s now our time. Our goal is to provide our Soldiers the best capability possible. They deserve nothing less.”


Heidi Shyu: Outlining strategies for modernization
Credits:Photo by Tony Pulsone


She underscored these goals as she addressed the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville audience.

The Army’s strategy, Ms. Shyu said, can be compared to a five-layer pyramid, with divestment as its base, which is followed by reset and sustainment. Then comes modernization of platforms already in place, development of newer capabilities, and topping it with science and technology.

She reiterated that there is a need to focus on future breakthrough technologies of development to clearly define the next generation Army. She understands that allocating a budget to that strategy can be challenging for Army leaders. 

It is noted that defense spending during wartime increases by 49%. However, as the war dies down, just like during the cold war, the budget allocation goes down and reaches only up to 30%. Meaning, if there is no war, the federal budget for defense efforts also remains at a lower rate. 

Ms. Shyu continued underscoring that out of all portfolios under the Research, Development, and Acquisition, there are three that account for over half of its entire budget. These are mission command, aviation, and ground systems. 

“But while the budget declines — since the height of fiscal year 2010 it has already seen a 21 percent drop — Army readiness must not,” she further said.

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