After decades of technical research and leadership experience as a university professor, small defense business owner and science and technology advisor to the Department of Defense, Nils R. Sandell Jr. is fulfilling a long held desire—joining DARPA. Sandell will lead DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO) and accelerate innovation in assured access, ISR, communications, navigation, electronic warfare and other areas focused on shaping the environment.
“I feel like I’ve indirectly served my country as part of academia and industry, but I’ve long had a desire to perform government service,” Sandell said. “Our Country’s been good to me, and I wanted to give back. Throughout my career, I’ve always thought that the most important thing about an organization is the quality of the people working there. I’ve had many dealings with DARPA and the great program managers within STO, so I’m really thrilled to become a part of it.”
“DARPA is planting the seeds of the next revolutions in capability for national security with new approaches to electronic warfare, position navigation and timing, and access to denied areas,” said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar. “We’re extremely fortunate to have Nils on the DARPA team with his tremendous expertise in these arenas.”
Ensuring our forces have uncontested access to airspace, seas and other domains is a key issue Sandell intends to confront: “We’ve been focused on relatively permissive environments in which we have uncontested access to airspace and bases. There are potential adversaries that have been developing systems to prevent us from having that free access,” he said. “Some of these systems present big challenges. I think they’re definitely worthy of the great talent we have at STO to address them.”
For 25 years, Sandell served as President and CEO of ALPHATECH Inc., a company he co-founded, which BAE Systems purchased and renamed Advanced Information Technologies (AIT) in 2004. As vice president and general manager of AIT in 2010 when he retired, he managed more than 400 employees conducting fundamental and applied research in ISR, cyber operations, signal and image processing, computer networks, and related areas.
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