May 17, 2024

Lockheed Martin’s CTO Steven Walker on Future Defense Technologies

There are lots of ways persons can provide their country with out signing up for the armed service. One is to acquire systems that can be used to protect their nation towards adversaries. That’s what Steve Walker has been performing his complete career.

The IEEE senior member worked for a lot more than 30 years in the U.S. civil services, 1st for the Air Drive Study Laboratory (AFRL), and then for the Protection Innovative Exploration Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Department of Protection‘s research arm.

Very last 12 months Walker joined the non-public sector as vice president and main technological know-how officer at defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

As a higher college student in the early 1980s, he was worried by the hostage disaster in Iran and the Chilly War, he says.

“My motivation was to be a part of the Air Power and enable create systems to protected the nation,” he says. “I went into my career with a perception of patriotism and nationwide security awareness.”

The attacks of 9/11 in 2001 further more strengthened his resolve. They gave him “a genuine mission to target on for the rest of my federal government occupation,” he suggests. “Resolving issues for the DoD to safeguard our nation is what I definitely delight in performing.”

Although Walker is not combating on the entrance traces, for just about three decades he has been doing the job guiding the scenes to fund a wide range of essential projects for the armed service and civilians. The initiatives have produced speedy bombers and fighter jets, cheap launch vehicles for satellites, and the mRNA engineering applied in coronavirus vaccines. He is continuing his target on military systems at Lockheed Martin.

CIVILIAN Occupation

When Walker was a teen, he hoped to provide in the Air Force. He joined its Junior ROTC at his substantial university in Dayton, Ohio, and gained a scholarship from the corps to attend the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana. He participated in the university’s USAF ROTC software prior to earning a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1987. He was to be commissioned as an officer on graduation however, at the time the branch by now experienced much too many officers, and Walker was inspired to get a civilian position with the Air Power. So he returned to Dayton and received an engineering task at the AFRL’s Air Cars Directorate functioning on air acoustics and creating exhaust units for armed forces airplanes.

“Following researching engineering for four decades in university, I required to make absolutely sure that my very first career was an engineering task in research and development,” Walker states. “I was in a position to set my coaching in faculty to great use there in the early a long time of my profession, so it all labored out.”

“Resolving issues for the authorities and for the DoD to protect our nation is what I definitely get pleasure from executing.”

While operating full-time at the AFRL, he was an Air Pressure reservist on weekends and pursued a master’s diploma in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton. He got the degree in 1991. Thanks to the Air Force’s tuition guidance application, he also acquired a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Notre Dame.

Walker says that degree set him up for “tactical leadership in the government.”

Immediately after getting his Ph.D. in 1997, he moved east to deal with an aerodynamics and hypersonics investigate method at the Air Force Office of Scientific Study, in Arlington, Va. Hypersonic weapons fly at very low altitude trajectories at additional than five occasions the speed of audio. When their velocity is blended with large maneuverability, hypersonic missiles are difficult to defeat, in accordance to the U.S. Protection Office.

Walker left in August 2001 to get the job done in the Pentagon as specific assistant to the director in the Business office of the Undersecretary of Protection for Investigate and Engineering. He was in his Pentagon office on 9/11 when a plane hit the intricate. His place of work was not harmed, but the attack jump-started his very long occupation at DARPA, which he joined in 2002.

Walker’s 1st position at the company was as a plan manager for its Tactical Technological innovation Business office, the place he performed hypersonic analysis. A person job he authorised in 2003 was the US $500 million joint system concerning DARPA and the Air Pressure to establish the Falcon. The challenge had two plans, Walker states. One was to acquire technologies for extended-length hypersonic flights. The other was to develop a small-charge launcher that could rapidly loft satellites into outer space. DARPA awarded SpaceX $8 million to exhibit that latter capacity employing its Falcon 1 launch motor vehicle. Immediately after a effective fourth launch of the Falcon 1, SpaceX went on to create its Falcon 9 launch ability, which is now sending astronauts to the Worldwide Area Station.

“SpaceX has absent on to actually be a amazing capability for our country,” he claims. “I’m happy of that accomplishment.”

Walker still left DARPA in 2010 to serve as deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technologies, and engineering. Through his just about 3 decades on the occupation, he was dependable for producing the know-how investment method for the Air Force’s once-a-year $2 billion science and technological innovation software and running more than 14,000 military and civilian scientists and engineers.

He returned to DARPA in 2012 as deputy director. In 2014 the agency proven its Biological Technologies Business office, which oversees fundamental and used research in this sort of spots as gene enhancing, neurosciences, and artificial biology.

“We have been genuinely targeted on taking advantage of all the technological innovation, growth, and biology and attempting to convert all those into an engineering discipline,” he says.

Out of that business arrived the Pandemic Avoidance Platform, which assisted fund the enhancement of the mRNA technologies that is used in the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.

“A lot of perform completed by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and DARPA 10 yrs in the past is now bearing fruit for the country and for the entire world,” he notes.

In 2017 he was appointed DARPA director. Shortly thereafter, he funded two significant initiatives that instantly impact IEEE associates. Just one is the AI Future marketing campaign, which has a multiyear expense of a lot more than $2 billion that began in 2018. It aims to improve the robustness of present artificial intelligence packages and build new technologies to make certain the United States stays in the guide, in particular when it arrives to AI in defense apps, he claims. The other was the Electronics Resurgence Initiative, a 5-year, $1.5 billion application launched in 2019 to remake the U.S. electronics industry.

Walker remaining DARPA in January to be a part of Lockheed Martin, in Bethesda, Md. Reflecting on his lengthy tenure at the agency, he states, “I sense blessed for the reason that DARPA is a truly extraordinary, very distinctive place. It is a small govt company relative to others that is concentrated on building technologies for countrywide security. Which is generally the mission. In my viewpoint, they have completed rather well.”


At Lockheed Martin, Walker is accountable for the company’s technological know-how technique, international analysis, mission enhancement, and rising functions technologies. Some of the jobs he is involved with involve creating a 5G network for the navy working with industrial off-the-shelf technologies. The committed community would permit data to be handed securely from system to system.

Another priority for Lockheed Martin is to develop AI and machine learning purposes for aerospace and defense firms in partnership with commercial organizations.

“The greatest application in my feeling,” he states, “is to use AI and device finding out on the battlefield to assistance make conclusions more rapidly.”


For Walker, IEEE’s most beneficial reward is IEEE Spectrum.

“I read it religiously since it really is just so very good. The articles or blog posts are good. I learn a ton from them,” he states. “I’m not an electrical engineer, so Spectrum is my window into the electrical engineering world.”

Lockheed Martin has been a robust supporter of IEEE for various several years, Walker says. The two organizations signed a company membership and sponsorship agreement in 2018 to collaborate on a number of parts of mutual fascination. They consist of workforce progress applications, discounted IEEE membership for Lockheed Martin employees, and sponsorship by the enterprise of selected IEEE projects.