Bran Ferren Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Applied Minds
AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum 2021
One of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” Bran Ferren is a master of the arts & sciences. Equal parts artist + designer & scientist + engineer, he is an expert on leveraging curiosity and creativity to inspire innovation. His 2014 TED Talk entitled “To Create for the Ages, Let’s Combine Art and Engineering” has been translated into 27 languages and viewed over a million times.
Bran is co-founder and chief creative officer of Applied Minds LLC, a company that for 20 years has provided advanced technology, creative design, and consulting services to both commercial and government clients. At Applied Minds, past and present clients include Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Cubic Corporation, Boeing, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, John Deere, Scientific Games, Sony, Herman Miller, Intel Corporation, L-3 Communications, Genworth Financial, UCLA, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Library of Congress.
Prior to Applied Minds, Bran held various leadership positions, including president of Research & Development for the Walt Disney Company. At Disney, he advised CEO’s Michael Eisner, Frank Wells and senior leadership on emerging technology and business opportunities and led the development of key innovations for divisions such as ABC Television. At Disney’s Imagineering division, where he was president of Creative Technology, he was responsible for advanced technology research and development for the theme parks and played key roles in creating major park attractions such as Test Track by General Motors, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Prior to that, Bran was president of Associates & Ferren, a company acquired by Disney.
Bran is a prolific inventor, named on over 570 domestic and foreign patent applications and 269 issued US patents. He developed numerous successful technologies, designs, experiences, and innovations used in consumer products, theme parks, imaging, broadcast television, theater, film production, arena concerts, buildings, aerospace, command centers, exhibits, and motor vehicles.
He has led many special purpose vehicle (and containerized) design and fabrication programs, for both government and commercial customers. These have been used for applications as diverse as film & video production, oilfield geological exploration, remote fabrication, and even transporting the Bill of Rights while on a 50-state national tour. His recent vehicle project, the KiraVan, has been featured in Wired Magazine, international publications and hundreds of websites. His recent design for the Genworth R70i Aging Experience has also been receiving major international media coverage, and also appears extensively on the web.
Bran is also an Oscar nominee and Academy Award winner for Science and Technical Achievement, whose work has appeared in films such as Altered States and Little Shop of Horrors. Major theater credits include award- winning special effects, lighting, and sound design for Broadway shows including Evita, Cats, and the Lion King. For his work in theater, he has received two New York Drama Desk Awards, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award, the Maharam Foundation Award, and the American Theater Wing, Hewes Design Awards.
He has pioneered technologies and staging concepts for music legends including Emerson, Lake & Palmer, R.E.M., Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, and Paul McCartney.
His body of work has been recognized by the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award in Lighting Design, the Kilby International Award for significant contributions to society, the US Intelligence Community Seal Medallion, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Inland California Chapter, Honor Award, and the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society.
Bran has been a senior advisory board member or consultant for science, advanced technology, and innovation to over two dozen U.S. government agencies and organizations including the CIA, NSA, DHS, DNI, SEC, FCC, PBS, United States Senate, Army, Air Force, Navy, Space Force, and Special Operations Command. A popular public speaker, he has delivered over 250 keynote speeches worldwide.