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Technical Advisory Board meeting held to discuss efforts and opportunities at Arnold AFB

Dr. Rich Tighe, right, general manager of the Test Operations and Sustainment (TOS) contractor for Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC), speaks during a University Consortium and Technical Advisory Board meeting held virtually Oct. 13, 2020, at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. Also in attendance, from left, AEDC TOS Deputy General Manager Mike Belzil and Technology Innovations Branch Manager Mark Brandon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Deidre Moon)

Dr. Rich Tighe, right, general manager of the Test Operations and Sustainment (TOS) contractor for Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC), speaks during a University Consortium and Technical Advisory Board meeting held virtually Oct. 13, 2020, at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. Also in attendance, from left, AEDC TOS Deputy General Manager Mike Belzil and Technology Innovations Branch Manager Mark Brandon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Deidre Moon)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Leadership with the Test Operations and Sustainment (TOS) contractor for Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., led a teleconference Oct. 13 and 14 with members of the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) of its University Consortium made up of senior professors from universities across the nation.

Among the topics discussed was the need to advance test and evaluation capabilities and the current efforts taking place at Arnold, as well as the AEDC geographically separated units.

“As the Air Force steps up to grow and improve our facilities, we must grow and advance the people part of the equation,” said Mark Bymaster, director of AEDC TOS Performance Assurance.

The TAB meetings are held three times a year. The board consists of professors appointed from the member universities of the TOS contractor University Consortium, which includes Georgia Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue and Texas A&M.

“The meetings provide an opportunity to go over what we have been doing in the test world at AEDC, and at the same time, provide the professors from these universities the chance to let us know what type of research they’re working on and how it could benefit what we are doing,” said Chris Crumbly, AEDC TOS technical director. “It also allows us a chance to explore our innovative efforts here and see how they are able to assist.”

Not only do the universities collaborate with AEDC on research projects, but the meetings are beneficial in helping to promote career opportunities at Arnold.

“The professors advocate to their students to join our internship program,” Crumbly said. “We have had several students from these universities intern with us over the last few years, and some of these students have gone on to later join our team as full-time employees.”

A member of Air Force leadership is also invited to the meetings to provide insight on recent AEDC accomplishments and efforts. Col. Lincoln Bonner, AEDC Test Division chief, represented the Air Force at the October meeting.

“I discussed my perspective on the Air Force’s future direction based on my recent experience as a strategist at Headquarters U.S. Air Force,” Bonner said. “I highlighted the four capability development focus areas for the Air and Space Forces – Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Dominate Space, Generate Combat Power, and Sustaining Logistics Under Attack – that complement the Air and Space Forces’ number one priority of a safe and secure nuclear deterrent.

“Lastly, I discussed the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Accelerate Change Or Lose message, and some of its implications for AEDC, in particular the imperative that, ‘Capabilities must be conceived, developed, and fielded inside competitors’ fielding timelines. …If we are to beat our competitors in conflict, we must also beat them in development and fielding of capability.”

Bonner added that meetings such as these are mutually beneficial.

“It is a beneficial exchange because AEDC is able to maintain a pulse on emerging research at some of America’s most prestigious universities, and some of the leading science and engineering minds at these institutions are able to better understand AEDC and U.S. national defense challenges,” he said. “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to address the group. Success in long-term strategic competition with China and Russia cannot be achieved without support from America’s STEM research community.”

The next TAB meeting is tentatively scheduled for early March 2021.