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with cancer and diabetes and who are waiting for organs.
I have been told that it is unlikely that we should see any hiccups because there was a political change that occurred during the time this happened. I would be surprised if anything we’re doing will be affected by politics. Curing disease is not a political problem—it’s a technical one.
X: Have you been told that the recently announced short-term federal employee hiring freeze will have any direct impact on the ARMI program?
DK: No. I have heard nothing like that. I have heard nothing to the contrary, either. I’ve had no conversation with anybody on that subject.
X: How far do you think the $294 million in funding commitments that have been made to date will take the program?
DK: We told the DoD that by the end of five years of our development, there should be enough successes that have reached industrial capability to be out there meeting the needs of people. By definition, if that occurs, this organization will be self sufficient and will be in a position to keep going without any federal funding and its partners will be putting in resources and benefitting by being able to put products in the field that are highly attractive and needed. Presumably the marketplace will then allow this thing to keep getting funded and keep growing.
X: Even though it’s still really early, how would you compare the work of starting and heading up ARMI versus your experiences as an inventor and at other career stops?
DK: My day job [at DEKA] is mostly making medical stuff, which I have been doing for big companies around the country for decades now. But I also many years ago started FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). It’s a coalition mostly of technology companies and universities [that organizes] robotics competitions [and other programming].
My vision for ARMI and my vision for my place within ARMI is a hybrid of my position inside DEKA leading commercial development and my position as the founder of FIRST: to keep steering it and keep herding all the cats from industry and academic institutions, not-for-profits, and foundations, to make it all work together.