Mark Mueller, DIA’s chief engineer, discusses innovation and passion // See video

Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller

The Defense Intelligence Agency may not call to mind images of engineers, but they are an integral part of the agency’s innovative culture.

Mark Mueller, the chief engineer for the Directorate for Science and Technology’s office of development and engineering, has spoken recently about his involvement with the Experimental Aircraft Association and called it a source of personal and professional inspiration, according to a feature article written by the DIA and posted on Feb. 21 on the DIA’s own Web site.

Mueller recalled being passionate about aviation since watching the lunar landings as a child, but followed a behind-the-scenes path to aviation, when less than 20/20 vision kept him from a military cockpit. Mueller views AirVenture, the EAA’s annual convention, as one example of impassioned creativity and a source of inspiration for DIA’s objective to adopt a more innovative culture.

“When we talk about changing our organizational culture to focus more on innovation, there isn’t anything more inspiring than going to an event like this, where the drive is purely passion,” Mueller said.

But he doesn’t advocate keeping what a person is passionate about separate from his or her job, the DIA article explains. Practicing what he preaches, Mueller’s day job as an engineer and his personal passion for aeronautics inform and cultivate each other, and the same principle applies whether you’re coding software, building airplanes or writing articles.

So, how does bureaucracy merge with innovation? Even Mueller, who has spent his career working in the Department of Defense and intelligence community, acknowledged that the answer to that question is still being sought.

Mueller participated last April in a video interview presented by the American Society for Engineering Education, as part of the ASEE’s applied research monitor series. In his wide-ranging remarks, Mueller spoke about reducing the nation’s reliance on foreign sources of energy; the DIA’s ongoing research in biometrics, which might help combat the threat of identity theft; and steps the DIA is taking to help safeguard the worldwide supply chain. That ASEE video is presented below: