Luke tech expo offers peak into the future

The 2018 Luke Tech Expo took place Feb. 22 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., demonstrating mission-centric technology solutions from approximately 20 industry-leading commercial partners for Airmen to exhibit and learn about.

The annual expo, hosted by the 56th Communications Squadron, demonstrated new technologies and advanced solutions for a variety of specialties, including network management, hardware and cybersecurity, video and audio communication, Common Access Card technologies, and printing services.

“A lot of what these industry partners bring to these types of events are leading edge technologies that may not be what we’re using right now, but what we will be using down the road,” said Maj. Nathaniel Edwards, 56th Communications Squadron commander. “This is a peak into what the future holds and where we can bring the Air Force.”

The expo gave base leadership an opportunity to explore new and developing technologies and ways to integrate those into the 56th Fighter Wing’s mission of building the future of airpower.

“It’s important for the base to be able to communicate with technology developers to show them what the military currently needs and for developers to show the military new technology to help develop or solve future needs,” said Kristin Coker, event manager. “That conversation is helpful at both ends and this event is a way to facilitate that.”

Coker says the ultimate goal of each expo is to target the specific needs of the units they visit by tailoring the vendors they invite to match the specific challenges or approaches individual organizations have.

“We get technology requests from different groups at the base and we try to find vendors who suit those solutions,” Coker said. “When it comes to the content of the event, it’s mostly about what the communications squadron and base wants to see.”

Some of the technology displayed at the event included highly-secure Common Access Card scanners, rugged network servers and computer devices, portable chargers, virtual reality headsets, and large-format printers.

Representatives from major technology companies each hosted a booth at the expo, allowing Airmen to engage representatives directly with questions or concerns about their products and services.

“Even for Airmen who don’t have the purchasing power their leadership has, it’s good to have them at the exhibit because they are ultimately the end-user,” Coker said. “They can provide feedback or concerns to vendors from a perspective their leaders don’t have or might not have thought of. It’s just as important that the end-user comes here as well.”

Edwards hopes the experience will inspire creativity at all levels.

“We’re constantly challenging Airmen to be innovative and do things better,” Edwards said. “By learning about and understanding the utility of new technologies, they’ll be able to figure out how to integrate that into what we currently do. It’s great for them to be aware of what’s out there and push for that new way of doing things.”

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