Fed tech research group boss visits UA, seeks ideas

May 6, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: BLAKE MORLOCK, Tucson Citizen] – The director of the federal agency designing planes that fly continuously for five years, plus low-cost titanium solar cells that would be efficient enough to power every house in Tucson and biofuel for jets was in town Friday. He’s hoping to entice local brainpower to find the idea that could change the world.

Oh, yeah. And these are the folks who invented the Internet.

Tony Tether, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, spoke to researchers and business leaders at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute about the kind of cutting edge work his people do.

DARPA funds research in the private sector and on college campuses while directing projects of its own.

All that work – from prosthetics to unmanned aerial vehicles launched from ballistic missiles – starts with a “what-if?” he said, adding DARPA is ready to tackle research that may not pan out.

“We thrive on your ideas,” Tether said

Tether, along with Rear Adm. Jay Cohen, undersecretary of Homeland Security for science and technology, were invited to speak here by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

BIO5 Director Vicki Chandler called DARPA a great conduit to grants for UA researchers.

Also, DARPA expects researchers to take risks.

“The world doesn’t truly move forward without someone taking a risk,” Chandler said.