Why do people become DARPA Program managers?

From a career and money standpoint, being a program manager seems pretty rough. There’s no promotion, no career stability (DARPA Program managers have a tenure of four to five years), you get paid a government salary (DARPA Employees aren’t paid very much compared to what they could be, you need to move to Washington DC, and you don’t get to show off what you did after you’re out (Darpa’s aversion to people with a web presence hints at a way that the internet has eroded institutions.)

Possible Reasons

  • People get frustrated with the incremental/conservative nature of academia
  • The prospect of getting to control a lot of money without a ton of oversight appeals to some people.
  • Patriotism - Mark Micire saw it as a way to serve his country.
    • ::Could you get people who want to serve humanity in the same way that they serve their country?::
  • Some people may like the explicitly temporary nature - DARPA Program managers have a tenure of four to five years
  • ::Speculative:: Want to see some technology out in the world/ Extreme agency to make awesome happen
  • ::Speculative:: Respect of small group of peers who will know what you did

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