ARLINGTON, Va. – New York Army National Guard Capt. Steven Quinones is the first member of the Army National Guard to complete a fellowship with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Quinones, a signal officer with New York's 42nd Infantry Division, was the first Guard member ever selected for the DARPA Service Chiefs Fellows Program. The work completed during the fellowship can lead to the development of future technologies.
The fellowship, from September to December, was established to immerse military officers and government civilians in science and technology research.
"I was recommended by a program manager from the Biological Technologies Office in DARPA after having facilitated part of their office off-site visit to New York City in 2018 while working for Joint Task Force Empire Shield," said Quinones, of Tappan, New York.
Quinones applied for the fellowship through Army Human Resources Command. It was funded by the National Guard Bureau, and he was put on active duty for the program.
"This sets a precedence for future Army National Guard officers to attend this fellowship," Quinones said.
Before becoming the division's current operations information cell officer in charge, Quinones enlisted in the Air Force in 2002, transferring to the Army National Guard in 2006 – first in Wyoming and then to New York in 2007. In 2010 he received his commission through Officer Candidate School.
DARPA was spawned by the 1957 launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite. DARPA has more than 200 employees working on about 250 research and development programs.
"As a fellow in the program I gained insights into the goals and mission of the agency and a number of DARPA programs including aerial dragnet, urban reconnaissance through supervised autonomy and measuring biological aptitude," Quinones said.
The fellowship is designed to use the background of fellows to help refine technology under development. Quinones was able to use his experience as a signal readiness officer in various projects under development at DARPA.
"Through visits with DARPA's industry, laboratory and university partners, I witnessed the agency's critical role in strengthening the intellectual and industrial bases for the development of game-changing DoD technologies," Quinones said.
Quinones used his experience in Army communications networks and dense urban terrain operations to help develop a DARPA program to provide better communications on the battlefield.
Through DARPA, many popular technologies have been developed, such as the computer mouse, GPS, Siri, drones and the internet. Some new technologies DARPA is working on include bullets that can change direction in flight, flying trucks, robotic pack animals and high-grip materials that will allow Soldiers to climb walls.
"It's an experience that I will never forget," Quinones said. "Last and most importantly were the friendships and bonds formed with the other fellows from other branches of service as well as the DoD civilians."