Professor Recognized for Exceptional Public Service

Andrei ShkelProfessor Andrei Shkel, has been recognized with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Public Service by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

For the past four years, Shkel has served as program manager of the Microsystems Technology Office at DARPA in Washington, D.C. While there, he created and directed a portfolio of technology development programs that reduced our military's reliance on global positioning systems, and substantially increased its ability to guide compact military platforms and dismounted warfighters. The development of these capabilities required the exploration of cold atom physics, nontraditional materials and manufacturing techniques, innovative control algorithms, and integrated calibration mechanisms.

“I am honored to receive this recognition. It was nice closure to my four years of service to DARPA and the Department of Defense,” says Shkel, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering with joint appointments in electrical engineering and computer science and in biomedical engineering. “DARPA is the crown jewel in Defense research and development. Anybody who has had a chance to work on programs funded by DARPA understands very well the meaning of ‘DARPA-hard problem.’ It is in the agency’s genes to go beyond traditional thinking and develop imaginative, innovative and often high-risk research ideas. I’m proud I was given an opportunity to help in identifying technological gaps of strategic importance for the Department of Defense and create the programs, on a national scale, that attempt to solve these problems.”

The award was presented by DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar at Shkel’s farewell celebration in Arlington, VA in late July. The citation reads:  “…Shkel was a valued contributor to DARPA, and capitalized on new opportunities for technology development while guiding existing programs to success. The distinctive accomplishments of Dr. Shkel reflect great credit upon himself, DARPA, and the Department of Defense.”

Shkel is happy to be back at UC Irvine and will be teaching in the Fall Quarter.  “First on my agenda is to dive into my research projects, and spend more face-to-face time with my graduate students and post-docs,” he says. “And I’m looking forward to teaching again; interaction with students is something I have truly missed while in DC.”