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Program Director

Company: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)
Location: Washington
Posted on: May 28, 2023

Job Description:

Position Description and Responsibilities

ARPA-E is seeking thought leaders with visionary ideas to catalyze the development of transformative energy technologies as Program Directors.

PDs are empowered to move quickly in addressing our nation's energy challenges. They are the driving force behind ARPA-E's pursuit of its mission and define the problems that it solves while managing the development of their solutions. The PD role celebrates intellectual curiosity and independence, constant learning, deep technical knowledge, and the willingness to take risks to enable a sustainable energy future.

PDs develop and manage their own funded programs to address national-scale energy problems that are unlikely to be solved by industry alone. They identify problems that are both important and challenging enough to warrant he expenditure of taxpayer dollars in the development of solutions. Typical ARPA-E investments in individual focused-area programs range from $10M to nearly $50M.

PDs lead teams with technical and management support to create Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). They manage the proposal evaluation process and make selection recommendations to the ARPA-E Director. PDs are then responsible for negotiating the technical milestones for each project. After award, PDs actively manage the projects with the performing teams. They are supported by an internal team that helps track progress against milestones, manage award logistics, and prepare the technology for market. PDs are thought leaders both within and outside DOE. They also contribute to the broader ARPA-E mission by supporting the development of their colleagues' program ideas and contributing to the growth, improvement, and culture of the organization.

The program development, active management, and thought leadership responsibilities of PDs necessitate frequent travel. While the level does vary through time at the agency, it can be -50% of a PD's time.

Per ARPA-E's Congressional Authorization, the position is a term limited one - with durations typically ranging between 3 and 5 years. Employees of national laboratories, universities, or nonprofits may join ARPA-E under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) and may serve for up to 4 years. Those who join ARPA-E as federal employees typically serve for 5 years. Despite being term-limited, the position provides tremendous networking opportunities that can help to catapult former PDs into impactful post ARPA-E careers.

Program Director jobs are designated as "positions of public trust", and pre-employment background checks are required. Information about this process and the questionnaire that will need to be completed before employment at ARPA-E begins (but not yet) are at this link. Additionally, after employment begins, financial disclosure reporting will be required; more information may be found at this link. PDs hold senior level technical positions and are paid per the certified performance appraisal system row in the table at this link. Lastly, US citizenship is required.


The required qualifications for the position are as follows:

* Doctoral degree in a scientific or engineering field plus at least 10 years of R&D experience,
* Deep technical expertise in an energy-relevant field, as demonstrated by a strong record of accomplishments - including publications, patents, technical reports, awards, and/or commercial impact,
* Significant R&D leadership experience - including organizational, project and/or industry (e.g., technical society) leadership roles,
* An entrepreneurial spirit and passion for ARPA-E's mission,
* A strong business acumen and an understanding of the role that new energy technologies might play in our energy and economic futures,
* Excellent written and oral communication skills,
* Willingness to work productively in a collaborative environment, and
* An understanding of the U.S. energy landscape and its major challenges, as evidenced by the motivation and framing of the program concept that is submitted as part of the application for the position.

To Apply

To apply for the position, please submit the following:

* A cover letter highlighting compliance with the above qualifications,
* Full resume or curriculum vitae, including list of publications and/or patents (if applicable)
* A two-page description of a potential new ARPA-E program concept that is of interest. In developing this concept, please--
* Think big (national scale impact) and remember that ARPA-E aims to make high-risk and hopefully high-reward investments.
* Ensure alignment with ARPA-E's mission, as described above.
* Frame the presentation of the concept around the "Heilmeier questions" (see below).
* Identify specific areas of technical innovation that might be required to solve the problem that you have identified.
* Ensure that your concept is differentiated from past and active ARPA-E programs (see https://arpa-e.energy.gov/technologies/programs), However, it is okay to build upon past programs.
* This concept is intended to help assess both your area of technical interest as well as your approaches to identifying and solving problems. (You would not be constrained to these program concepts should you eventually become a PD at ARPA-E.)

Heilmeier Catechism

Program concepts should be framed around the "Heilmeier questions" (credited to George Heilmeier, former DARPA director):

* What are you trying to do? What is the problem, and why is it hard? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
* How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
* What is new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
* Who cares? If you are successful, what difference will it make?
* What is the impact and how will it be measured? (try to identify the most pertinent techno-economic metrics including comparisons with present state-of-the-art)
* What are the risks?
* How much will it cost? How long will it take?
* What are the mid-term and final "exams" to check for success?

The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.

Keywords: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), Washington DC , Program Director, Executive , Washington, DC

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