Learn More About Dava Newman
Given the rapid evolution of technology, science and innovation, how can organizations prepare for what’s coming so they can be relevant, sustainable and profitable years from now?
As the newly appointed director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, Dr. Dava Newman – rocket scientist-engineer, inventor, author and global explorer – is a rare expert who offers leaders an up-close view of the future of emerging technologies that will change how we live, work and play. An interdisciplinary leader, longtime MIT educator and former NASA Deputy Administrator (the first woman engineer to serve in that role), Newman helps organizations in every sector prepare for the exciting changes ahead in such areas as artificial intelligence, engineering, design, biomedical research and wearable technologies. Her framework for innovation, developed and deployed at NASA, helps organizations create technologies that enhance society in a variety of areas, from health care and entertainment to sustainability and social justice. A technology pioneer perhaps best known for her second skin BioSuit™ planetary EVA system, Newman has a “moonshot” mindset when it comes to innovation.
“My philosophy is ‘let’s not do the same thing we’ve always done.’ No incremental design, if you will. What haven’t we thought of? I think a lot of innovation comes from asking, ‘How else could we attack this problem, what else and who should be at the table contributing their creative ideas?’” says Newman. “As a technologist and designer myself, what am I doing every day to positively impact society? Sure, as an engineer we create technologies and experiences, but we have to remember that our mantra is to create technologies that benefit society.”
While she is on a personal mission to make humanity an interplanetary species, Newman is equally passionate about taking lessons learned from space exploration and applying them to big problems here on earth, such as climate resilience and security. A faculty leader in her home department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT’s School of Engineering for almost 30 years, Newman is also immersed in the study of human-machine robotic interactions. Recognizing that organizations can literally invent the work of the future by designing human-centered autonomous-AI systems, she is optimistic about the endless possibilities for people and businesses.
Chief among Newman’s passions is her leadership in changing the conversation around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to ensure excellence by including people from all walks of life as part of innovation teams, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. A staunch advocate for women and people of color, she now uses the term STEAMD, expanding the definition to include arts and design. As an advisor, educator and leader, Newman emphasizes the powerful roles inclusion and empathy play in fueling innovation, unearthing new inventions and accelerating transformation for all.
“No more filtering anyone out,” says Newman, one of the world’s most influential women engineers according to Forbes. “Rather, we must strive for infinite diversity in infinite combinations, empowering the women leaders of tomorrow!”
Dr. Dava Newman is the director of the MIT Media Lab. Her BioSuit™ has been exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Paris’ Cite des Sciences et de L’Industrie, the Chicago Museum of Science + Industry, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In addition to holding numerous design and compression technology patents, Newman is the author of Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design, an introductory engineering design textbook. She has published more than 300 papers in journals, supervised 90 graduate student theses and supervised and mentored over 200 undergraduate researchers.
Newman has received honors from entities including, but not limited to, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Explorer’s Club. She is an AIAA Fellow and, separately, was named a Margaret MacVicar Faculty fellow in the year 2000, which is a distinguished 10-year MIT chair “granted for excellence in undergraduate teaching and innovation in education.”
Newman earned her Ph.D. in aerospace biomedical engineering and Master of Science degrees in aerospace engineering and technology and policy from MIT, and her Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Dava Newman is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.