‘FORCECON 2022’ spurs collaboration, innovation for Air Force, industry, academia Published May 25, 2022 By Capt. Lauren Woods Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs PORT SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The inaugural FORCECON 2022: Innovation – Technology – Gaming convention kicked off here with a collider event May 24-25 to spur collaboration between the military, industry and academia, with a goal of tackling some of the military’s toughest challenges in the areas of force development, and installation and mission support. “We're looking to build new ideas, break how we've been doing things, to be able to do them better within a system,” said Dr. Wendy Walsh, AETC chief learning officer, who opened the first day of the event. “It takes all of us, industry, academia, and military, to connect the pieces and create a culture of continuous improvement, so that we can sustain the innovation until it no longer serves us.” Attendees of FORCECON 2022 speak with industry and learn about innovation in various expo booths during Innovation Day of FORCECON 2022 at Tech Port San Antonio, Texas, May 24, 2022. FORCECON 2022 is an interactive industry and academia collider event where participants have the opportunity to connect with industry and small business advisors.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Keith James) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Members of the Air Force GeoBase Program talk about leveraging the capability of small unmanned aerial system technology during the AFIMSC Industry Day of FORCECON 2022 at Tech Port San Antonio, Texas, May 25, 2022. FORCECON 2022 is an interactive industry and academia collider event where participants have the opportunity to connect with industry and small business advisors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, gives opening remarks during the Air Education and Training Command Innovation Day of FORCECON 2022 at Tech Port San Antonio, Texas, May 24, 2022. FORCECON 2022 is an interactive industry and academia collider event where participants have the opportunity to connect with industry and small business advisors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Keith James) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Fueled by a team-up between members representing the University of Texas-San Antonio’s Center for Government Contracting, Air Education and Training Command and Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, the agenda for the industry collider included presentations, panels and an exposition hall with 70 vendors focused on innovation in force development and mission support. Highlights from the first day, which focused on AETC innovation priorities, included remarks from San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and UTSA National Security Collaboration Center Executive Director Guy Walsh, as well as presentations on teaming with academia, digital proficiency and technology innovations in learning. “Events such as FORCECON 2022 showcase Military City USA’s commitment to helping strengthen relationships between the DoD, academia and industry,” said Nirenberg. “These relationships and joint efforts on emerging technology strengthen our national security.” The day concluded with the iChallenge competition, where seven finalists from AETC presented pitches to a panel of judges for a chance to win $250,000 in funding for their innovative ideas. During the second day, discussions centered on what industry and academia can bring to bear for installation and mission support. "Partnering and collaborating with academia and industry is critical as they bring new and often unique perspectives into military and government organizations," said Dustin Dickens, an innovation program analyst with AFIMSC Ventures. "Often on the leading edge, the capability and concepts they bring to our Airmen and Guardians can be anything from a small change to something large and instrumental." Partnerships made at industry day events benefit all mission partners, Dickens said. "Paired with government and military, these joint relationships can propel all parties forward as we learn from one another and advance our collaborative goals. The results and relationships are often game changing and can help the Department of the Air Force be at the forefront of new and emerging technologies." In addition to the industry collider, FORCECON 2022 also includes the Air Force’s first federally-recognized eSports competition organized by Air Force Gaming. The Department of the Air Force Gaming League, Air Force Gaming and Space Force Gaming leverage gaming and the digital universe as an innovative approach to resiliency and force retention, focused on grassroots-level community building across the DoD.