Goldin’s Golden Tech Bits (in Under a Minute)

The Hon. Daniel Goldin


Dan Goldin Tech Freedom Awards
Goldin’s Golden Tech Bits (in Under a Minute)

This month, I was honored to receive the inaugural Tech Freedom Award from the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. 

I spent most of my life in the secret world of national security efforts, so I haven’t shared too much of my story but I’d like to share why I believe so much in making bold investments in technology to secure our political and economic freedom.

I was born into a Jewish family in the South Bronx at the end of the Great Depression. My father had a government post office job. Money was tight and we were just getting into World War II. 

However, through stunning innovations in electronics, shipbuilding, aircraft, materials and mobility sectors throughout the war, we defeated totalitarianism, grew our economic base and cultivated a booming industrial economy post war. 17 million new civilian jobs!

After the war, my father became an elementary science teacher and exposed me to as much science as he could. He brought me to the NYC Hayden Planetarium and, there, my love for space and science blossomed. I went on to study math, science, the stars and the heavens… and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, my relatives along with millions of people who had been trapped in Europe never survived Hitler. This was my first real understanding of what it meant to be American. 

Soon thereafter, we learned that the Soviets were testing deadly hydrogen bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles targeted at us. As fifth graders, my classmates and I did duck and cover drills and were not naive to the fact our childsize desks would offer little protection against nuclear attack.

So when I was graduating college in 1962 and President John F. Kennedy gave his inspirational speech – to beat the Soviets in space and science and “go to the moon and do other difficult things because they are hard, not because it’s easy”, I made a choice. 

The necessity of making big, bold investments to secure our freedom was clear and that became my life’s mission.

Since then, we’ve developed leading national security technologies and cultivated the most creative, entrepreneurial and profitable tech sectors that improve lives in America and all over the world. We can sleep safely, achieve our dreams and explore the heavens if we so choose. This is what I call freedom, and much of it is owed to the bold technological and scientific pursuits we have made.

This award means a lot to me, because it symbolizes the “hard things”, as JFK referred to them, that we do and need to do to continue securing our freedom in all facets of life.

Thank you to the Krach Institute, Keith Krach, Bonnie Glick, Naofa Noll and all our fellows who are leading this extraordinary mission. Thank you to Cerberus Capital Management, my wife Judy, daughter Laura and everyone who joined last week to celebrate the pursuit of freedom through the advancement of technology. 

To make this award even more special is a tribute from my friend and colleague Dan Tam. When I became NASA Administrator in the 90s, I called on Dan to leave his lucrative aerospace job to initiate a new effort at NASA to commercialize space. His work then paved the way for SpaceX, ABL Space Systems, Astranis Space Technologies and so on. Dan now has ALS and below I get the honor of sharing his words through his Tobii Dynavox machine.