Robert Pearce Associate Administrator, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate NASA

Robert Pearce

Mr. Robert A. Pearce is the associate administrator for NASA ARMD. Pearce manages the agency’s aeronautics research portfolio and guides its strategic direction, including research in quiet supersonic flight over land, urban air mobility, autonomy, highly efficient advanced air vehicle concepts, electrified aircraft propulsion, advanced materials, airspace operations and safety, integration and flight demonstrations of aviation systems, and the nurturing and development of transformative concepts for aviation.

Pearce served as acting associate administrator from August 2019. Prior to that he was ARMD’s deputy associate administrator for strategy, where he led aeronautics research mission strategic planning to guide the content, strategic progress and relevance of ARMD’s research portfolio, and led review and evaluation of ARMD’s budget and approval process.

His first position in ARMD was as director for strategy, architecture and analysis, where he established a strategic systems analysis capability focused on understanding the system-level impacts of NASA’s programs, the potential for integrated solutions, and the development of high-leverage options for new investment and partnership.

From 2003 until July 2010, Pearce was the deputy director of the FAA-led Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). The JPDO was an interagency office tasked with developing and facilitating the implementation of a national plan to transform the air transportation system to meet the long-term transportation needs of the nation.

Prior to the JPDO, Pearce held various strategic and program management positions within NASA. In the mid-1990s he led the development of key national policy documents including the National Science and Technology Council’s “Goals for a National Partnership in Aeronautics Research and Technology” and the “Transportation Science and Technology Strategy.” These two documents provided a substantial basis for NASA’s expanded investment in aviation safety and airspace systems.

He began his career as a design engineer at the Grumman Corporation, working on such projects as the Navy’s F-14 Tomcat fighter and DARPA’s X-29 Forward Swept Wing Demonstrator. Pearce also has experience from the Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center where he made contributions in the area of advanced concepts for intercity transportation systems.

Pearce has received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal for sustained excellence in planning and advocating innovative aeronautics programs in conjunction with the White House and other federal agencies. He received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for outstanding leadership of the JPDO in support of the transformation of the nation’s air transportation system. Pearce has also received NASA’s Cooperative External Achievement Award and several Exceptional Performance and Group Achievement Awards.

He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Syracuse University, and a master’s of science degree in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.