Program Director



ARPA-E is the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy. 

ARPA-E brings together top minds in energy R&D and commercialization, to change what’s possible. 

ARPA-E team members share a commitment to make an impact—to enhance the United States’ economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental sustainability. 

ARPA-E supports nascent technologies with the potential to transform America’s energy landscape that are not ready for significant private investment. 

ARPA-E’s mission is to de-risk these potential high-impact technologies at key make-or-break points early in the development cycle. 

Position Description

 Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States 

Summary: ARPA-E hires Program Directors (PD) with visionary ideas to help support the development of innovative energy technologies. 

PD Responsibilities: 

Program Development
Through appropriate technical and market analysis, and engagement with the ARPA‐E team and energy R&D communities, the PD develops a concept for an ARPA‐E program. He or she must then defend that concept in the face of challenging but constructive criticism from other ARPA‐E team members. Once through this crucible, the PD leads the drafting of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and manages all stages of the procurement process, which includes peer review of concept papers and full applications. This culminates in the PD recommending performer awards to agency leaders. 

Project Management
Once a program’s projects have been awarded, the PD actively manages that program, including full development of technical milestones and an intellectual property/commercialization strategy for each project through its completion. Management requires extensive, “hands-on” work with project performers in the field. The PD is responsible for adjusting, re‐scoping, extending, or canceling projects during the performance period. The PD’s project portfolio includes all projects in his/her program area(s) and may include other ongoing ARPA‐E projects as required. 

Other Duties 
A PD carries ARPA‐E’s endorsement as a thought leader both within DOE and to the external R&D community. A PD develops best practices as part of continually improving how ARPA‐E does business. A PD also evaluates other PD candidates, leads or serves on ad hoc groups as required for specific tasks, and provides peer review to other PDs’ program concepts. 


  • Initial term of hire is three years, with renewal options. 
  • ARPA-E will consider hiring individuals from universities and other nonprofit organizations via the Intergovernment Personnel Act (IPA). 
  • U.S. citizenship is required. 
  • 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. 

Required qualifications 

  • Strong vision for specific program areas that are ripe for ARPA-E investment, i.e., those likely to develop transformational energy technologies 
  • Relevant energy-related experience in academia, industry, and/or technology investment 
  • Ability to span science and engineering disciplines and understand market requirements and realities, preferably with experience in starting a company and/or delivering a product to market 
  • Strong background in communication, program management, and technology transfer 
  • Demonstrated leadership in communicating a vision and bringing different communities together to catalyze something new; clear and authoritative decision-making 
  • Deeply knowledgeable in at least one scientific/engineering area with demonstrated creativity/originality in using new approaches and connecting seemingly disparate ideas 
  • Passionate about solving energy challenges, even if lacking previous direct experience in energy science and technology 
  • Comfort with a high level of risk and uncertainty; ability to be flexible with regard to technical area, market assessment, and workload (substantial travel may be required) 

Especially relevant backgrounds include, but are not limited to 

  • Electrical power systems 
  • Electrochemical energy storage and conversion 
  • Photovoltaic energy conversion 
  • Advanced engines/vehicle technologies 
  • Chemical catalysis/reaction engineering for biofuels, industrial processes, and other energy applications 
  • Biological approaches to energy conversion/biofuels 
  • Low temperature waste heat recapture/thermodynamic and/or solid state cycles 
  • Fossil energy conversion/carbon capture and conversion 
  •  Wind power/ocean and wave power/aerodynamics and fluid dynamics 
  • Grid scale energy storage 
  • Energy harvesting materials and devices 
  • Building efficiency technologies/HVAC/building envelope/smart buildings 
  • Advanced lighting technologies 
  • Advanced materials for energy applications