Focus Sessions Add Value to AFCEA Conferences

July 16, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Connections
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Engagement Theaters that center on rubber-meets-the-road topics are one of the latest features of AFCEA International conferences. Located on the exhibit floor, these 50-minute forums appeal to industry and government personnel alike, because they provide the most current information—including changes—to military technologies, requirements and processes. Attendees come away with actionable data concerning specific military organizations’ future needs and ideas about how their companies can capture that business.

Mike Warlick, vice president for regional and chapter outreach, explains that the Engagement Theater format is designed expressly to provide information about topics that may only be of interest to particular segments of the thousands of conference attendees. Unlike panel discussions that examine the challenges the military and government agencies face on a broader level, these sessions hone in on the details that are integral to addressing those challenges.

For example, Coalition Interoperability Assurance and Validation (CIAV) was one of the topics covered at TechNet Land Forces–South last week. Experts from the U.S. Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency discussed activities that are supporting operations in the Afghanistan Mission Network. Other Engagement Theater topics included joint interoperability, certification and CIAV requirements, processes and activities; the Army’s Unified Capabilities program; and U.S. Central Command’s IT capability portfolio management system.

Among the subjects that will be discussed in the Engagement Theater at TechNet Land Forces–East are specifics of the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) approaches for critical infrastructure security from an intelligence perspective and the impact of disruptive technologies, particularly in the education arena. The conference takes place in Baltimore August 14-16, 2012.

The Engagement Theater debuted at WEST 2012 and has been a huge hit, Warlick relates. The section of the exhibit floor designated for the theater seats approximately 75 people and, at previous conferences, many times additional chairs were added to accommodate the number of event attendees who wanted to attend the sessions.

“This level of interest indicates that we are meeting a need,” he states. “The panel discussions are excellent, but many conference attendees want to—and need to—dig deeper into the details of projects and programs. The Engagement Theater enables them to hear directly from the experts and to network with the people they are most likely to be working with on a day-to-day or program-specific basis.”
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