White House Assistant Director for Open Innovation honored as UF Outstanding Young Alumna

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Jenn Gustetic

In her job at the White House, Jenn Gustetic helps find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the planet. As the Assistant Director for Open Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Gustetic organizes prizes and competitions to inspire innovation and collaboration within the scientific community. She recently helped the White House update President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation. Prior to her job at the White House Gustetic was at NASA, where she pioneered a new position as its first-ever Prizes and Challenges Program Executive.

A graduate of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, Gustetic was an obvious choice for this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni award, presented by the University of Florida Alumni Association. She is visiting the UF campus this week to receive her award.

“UF prepared me with the knowledge and skills that have been the foundation of my career progression from consulting to NASA to the White House,” Gustetic said.

In coordinating the celebration of the 5th anniversary of Challenge.gov – Gustetic launched more than 20 high-impact challenges supported by the Federal government and philanthropists. These challenges address nutrient pollution, combat illegal fishing, accelerate the commercialization of NASA-funded technologies, improve cancer screening from mammography and lung CT imaging, and help students make better decisions about their education and career options.

“Jenn Gustetic has played a critical role in encouraging federal agencies to embrace open innovation,” said Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “This is allowing the federal government to engage more citizens in solving some of the most important challenges of the 21st century.”

As an undergraduate at UF, Gustetic studied aerospace engineering and was involved in student government, Florida Blue Key and Tau Beta Pi. She was the 4-year scholar award winner for Gator Engineering in 2005. She later earned her master’s degree in Technology Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – where Cammy Abernathy, dean of Engineering, received her Bachelor’s degree.

“Jenn is an incredibly dynamic example of what we call the New Engineer,” Abernathy said. “She uses her leadership ability to bring people together to collaborate for the express purpose of bettering the world through innovation. We are so incredibly proud of her and the ways she has grown her talents to help others.”

“New Engineers must be technically competent, have high emotional intelligence, and be excellent communicators and leaders,” Gustetic said. “UF prepared me exceptionally well with all those skills.”