Dr. Jeff Waksman is a program manager for the Strategic Capabilities Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he leads Project Pele. Prior to this job, Dr. Waksman was a Science and Technology Fellow in the office of Representative David Schweikert where he worked with key stakeholders in science and technology areas such as information technology, cryptography, and blockchain; in this role, he helped the House Science, Space & Technology Committee move forward with the National Quantum Computing Initiative. Dr. Waksman has also worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where he served as Executive Secretary/Designated Federal Officer, National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group. In this role, he assisted in the creation of and wrote the charter for the Users’ Advisory Group. Prior to his federal service, he was employed in the private sector for IBM, where he was a staff scientist working on advanced semiconductor programs such as quantum computing and heterogeneous integration. Dr. Waksman earned his Bachelor Science in Applied Physics from Columbia University, and he holds masters’ degrees in both Physics and Nuclear Engineering as a well as doctorate in Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Podcasts / Webinars
The Defense Science Board has identified energy as one of the main enablers of future military operations and has noted that military energy usage could grow significantly in the near future, outpacing improvements to alternative energy sources. In March of 2020, the Pentagon issued several contracts to facilitate a design work “competition” for mobile, small nuclear reactors and the winning prototype will potentially be forward deployed with forces outside the United States. The project is managed through the Strategic Capabilities Office’s “Project Pele” which was formed to ensure the safe development of mobile and advanced nuclear microreactors for a variety of DoD missions. Desired features for the new reactors include quick set-up, shut-down, and the ability to facilitate rapid movement by road, sea, air, or train. This prototyping project will ensure that critical functions remain operational regardless of the status of the local power grid and allow users to combat physical or cyber espionage from weak grids.