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.”

Dava Newman | Aerospace Pioneer and Multidisciplinary Authority on the Requirements of Human Performance On and Beyond Earth

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 designing human-centered autonomous-AI systems, she is optimistic about the endless possibilities for people and businesses.