Team AEDC rocks as local host for T&E Days

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- What a week! The team absolutely hit the ball out of the park as we hosted the annual AIAA "T&E Days" in Nashville.

This is the premier event for the test community, industry and our AIAA partners and serves as the springboard for a year of renewed energy across our enterprise. As the local hosts for this year's event, AEDC had a chance to shine, and shine we did.

I can't thank the planning team, the briefers and "participants" enough for making this year's event such a huge success. The technical presentations were right on target ... informative and thought provoking.

The "plenary sessions" set the tone and kept everyone focused, and the highlight of the show, was a first ever for AIAA ... the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton A. Schwartz. He literally had everyone in the hall on the edge of their seats, and for those that missed it, I'd like to share the highlights of his presentation.

Though not a tester by trade, the "Chief" made it clear that he was totally behind our discipline and acknowledged the enormous importance of our work. He recognized the shifts in our environment, away from a reliance on traditional physical testing to an increased role for modeling, simulation and next generation test techniques.

He challenged us all to find new ways to redefine our profession, and work towards a new paradigm of "effective, lean and reliable" test programs. While these comments represented his core message, two other elements really hit home ... confidence and integrity.

During the Q&A session, he fielded a question asking him for his assessment of what the USAF's top challenges will be in the near term. His answer may have caught the audience by surprise: "To have those who depend on us to become our greatest champions."

Wow! This is really deep. Think about it. We spend so much of our time defending budgets, briefing our capabilities, and otherwise trying to convince our "customers" that we add value. What a different world we would find ourselves in if our "clients" did all the bragging for us. This is indeed a noble and worthy goal.

His next point was even more prescient.

When asked about the ongoing "Acquisition Improvement Program," he commented on how our acquisition strategies have to adapt to the changing threat and fiscal realities. He reminded us all that our success was completely dependent on being "completely above reproach" in our actions, no matter what environment we find ourselves in. He called out the KC-X and F-35 programs as the real tests of our re-focused efforts.

It was clear from his comments that integrity and personal accountability will be the litmus test in our acquisition programs, and as testers, the confidence we inspire in the process is the key to a successful outcome.

The event concluded with Team AEDC stealing the show with some truly outstanding presentations ( I was particularly interested in our very own Technology Groups' pitch on Background-oriented Schlieren) and a wrap up by our headquarters advocate, Maj. Gen. David W. Eidsaune.

For those that missed it, AIAA will make some of the event available on the Web. For those that attended, I couldn't be prouder of our role in this undertaking. This will be a tough act to follow indeed.