DARPA seeks to attract new recruits with high-tech exhibition in Chicago

The autonomous ship "Sea Hunter", developed by DARPA, is shown docked in Portland, Oregon. © Steve Dipaola
The Pentagon’s DARPA, which has already set up plans to create brain implants to control machines and install combat lasers on planes, has opened an exhibition in Chicago showing off its creations and aiming to attract more scientists and researchers.

The exhibition, “Redefining Possible,” which is being held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is aimed at giving the public and potential new employees an interactive look at the organization’s achievements in the field of science and technology. 

“Learning how DARPA has tackled some of the most daunting scientific and engineering challenges—and how it has tolerated the risk of failure in order to have major impact when it succeeds—can be enormously inspiring to students,” DARPA’s Deputy Director Steve Walker said on the organization’s website. 

Among the creations on display will be a large-scale model of the Sea Hunter, a 132-foot vessel that is used to track submarines. It is able to cruise the seas and oceans for months at a time, without any crewmembers on board. 

“We need to mix it up. We need to build war-fighting architectures that are more heterogeneous in nature, hard to target and rely on smaller and cheaper microelectronics technologies," Walker said in February. 

Also on display will be the humanoid robot Atlas, which can navigate rough outdoor terrain and provide assistance following natural disasters and Spot, a robotic dog. Both of the robots were built in conjunction with Boston Dynamics, which is owned by Google. 

Those attending the exhibition will also have the chance to see a 100-foot timeline of technological breakthroughs that have been supported by DARPA, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, to manmade lightning and an Ebola vaccine growth. 

Walker mentioned that the exhibition is also a chance to put on display America’s achievements with the aim of trying to attract some of the nation’s brightest minds to work for DARPA. 

“We’re happy to be able to tell our story and hope catch the attention of some of the nation’s leading scientist and engineers,” he said. “We are constantly looking for superstars.”

“It happens that MSI is smack in the middle of a resource-rich domain, from a recruiting point of view,” he added, mentioning that Chicago is home to a number of prestigious universities and technology companies.