HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - At the Space and Missile Defense Symposium there are speakers and panel discussions, and exhibits of cutting edge technology. All of it geared toward a theme that boils down to a nation, and a defense industry that has to be ready for anything.
In fact, that's the official theme for this 20th edition of the Symposium, "Enabling Decisive Action in a Multi-Domain Environment."
Eric Blades works with ATA Engineering and puts it simply. "Our country is under a whole bunch of different threats," said Eric. They do come in multiple domains too. These days the threats can be on land, on the sea, in the air, in space, and of course in cyber-space.
Considering the scope of the threats means thinking very seriously about answers. "The best war is one never fought, but we also want to make sure that we're ready if we have to. That's what this event is all about," said Jim Rogers, of Lockheed Martin, this year's Industry Chair for the Symposium.
For the companies exhibiting being ready for what might come is why they're here. They want to shop their technology, and maybe find not a customer, but possibly a partner for the "next" technology.
"All these people have hardware in their booths, and they can come visit us and throw ideas around and invite us over to their booth and exchange ideas. And the next thing you know, you may have a new concept," said Tom Delay the owner of Cimarron Composites of tanks for space craft and other vehicles.
New concepts, or old concepts re-purposed are certainly part of how the aerospace-defense industry keeps up with the changing threats. Having a chance to gather everyone together as they are at the Von Braun Center is invaluable.
"You know, I think it makes us safer at the end of the day, because we're going to talk about innovation. We're going to listen to government, to customers, the military, find out what their requirements are so we can do better," said Bill Phillips with Boeing, Huntsville.
Everyone getting on the same page, networking, and learning are all things that happen every year at the Symposium. It's why Boeing's Bill Phillips wasn't stretching the truth when he said, "This is critically important to not just the Huntsville community, but to the nation as a whole."
The SMD Symposium continues Wednesday all day, and Thursday through mid-day. Anyone can tour the exhibits as long as they bring photo ID and register.
A special feature Wednesday is the "Warriors to the Workforce" event from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM in the VBC East Hall 3. The free event is all about providing employment opportunities for veterans, and transitioning service members from the military to the civilian work force.
Some 25 companies are expected to participate. There is no cost for veterans, service members or military spouses. Anyone interested can register at www.warriorstotheworkforcehsv.net