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Symposium generates ideas for revitalization, collaboration

Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, right, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks, speaks to Steve Wert, PEO for Digital, and other Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center symposium participants via Webex, while Caitlin Sullivan, with Gartner Air Force Programs, looks on, Sept. 30.

Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, right, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks, speaks to Steve Wert, PEO for Digital, and other Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center symposium participants via Webex, while Caitlin Sullivan, with Gartner Air Force Programs, looks on, Sept. 30. The event focused on the theme “The New HCIC: A Revolution in Collaborating, Innovating and Delivering Command and Control Capabilities” and featured presenters and panelists from the Air Force, industry and academic communities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – During the Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center symposium Sept. 30, speakers emphasized reinvigorating the center as a hub for collaboration and leveraging its capabilities to help meet Advanced Battle Management System, Joint All Domain Command and Control, and digital engineering needs.

The all-day event focused on the theme “The New HCIC: A Revolution in Collaborating, Innovating and Delivering Command and Control Capabilities” and featured presenters and panelists from the Air Force, industry and academic communities. More than 260 people attended the virtual symposium, which was hosted via Webex, with a limited group supporting the event onsite at Hanscom.

Lt. Col. Darren Edmonds, the HCIC executive director, opened the event by highlighting the overarching goal of producing ideas for how to revitalize the center and make full use of its capabilities.

“There are a lot of people using the HCIC for some really neat things,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, and Networks, during his presentation. “But they are using it in a vacuum. The innovation and integration capabilities in the HCIC aren’t really being utilized. We’re not making it all it could be.”

He went on to say that the center’s leadership and users need to identify ways to show the HCIC’s connectivity and its ability to deliver capabilities immediately back to the warfighter.

Steve Wert, PEO for Digital, posed four questions to his fellow PEO panelists and symposium attendees to help generate “good ideas.” He asked: what do we have at industry locations or federally funded research and development center labs that perhaps could be set up in the HCIC? How can the HCIC be leveraged for an upcoming ABMS onramp? How can the HCIC help support the digital engineering campaign? And finally, whether a new name might be better.

“If the HCIC is not enabling ABMS or digital engineering, then it’s going to become irrelevant to Air Force leaders,” he said.

Dr. Adil Karim, chief engineer, Architecture Initiatives – ABMS, from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, offered tangible examples of the role the HCIC could play in assisting with ABMS indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity proposals.

“I see the HCIC playing an important role in shaping some of the early-stage proposals to the ABMS ID/IQ,” he said. “If there’s an environment where you can work on your existing contract or connect to the existing systems with PEO Digital or C3I&N to ‘kick the tires’ and find out what you’ve got, that might help you sharpen your proposal to the ABMS solicitation.”

The academia panel, led by Anita Carleton, director of the Software Solutions Division for Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, explored how the academic community can partner with government and industry to help support these ideas.

“When I think about ABMS, I think about the really important role that research labs and academia can play as we think about scaling, bringing innovative technologies in and being able to have these rapid cycles for trying new things and getting things out to the warfighter,” she said.

Academia panelist Dr. Kavitha Chandra, associate dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, one of Hanscom’s long-term educational partners, said these are large problems with an opportunity for everyone to play a collaborative role in finding solutions.

“Command and control generally means establishing common intent to achieve coordinated action, and that’s exactly what we should be doing here to accelerate the coordination between academia, industry and the government,” she said.

The event also featured a look at the history of the HCIC, an industry panel, and speakers from the Air Force Life Cycle Management’s Detachment 12 Kessel Run, C3I&N’s Aerial Networks Division and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Those interested in sharing ideas for future HCIC uses or white papers are encouraged to reach out to Edmonds via email at darren.edmonds@us.af.mil.