By Lynne Garrow
Opening ceremonies for I/ITSEC were called to order on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 8:30 a.m., in the Hyatt Regency Orlando Hotel, and followed by the Presentation of Colors. A video of Capt. Nelson P. Jackson, USN (Ret.) singing the National Anthem was shown in his memory; Nelson, the face of I/ITSEC for over 30 years, passed away earlier this year.
Speaking to a standing room only crowd of service and industry attendees, Brent Smith, 2015 I/ITSEC conference chair, and vice president and technology officer, Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS), welcomed the group. He explained that the theme of the conference, Forging the Future through Innovation, addressed the Armed Forces’ need to meet the challenges of the increasingly changing global community. He invited guests to explore the hands-on displays, tools and technology shared on the exhibit floor, and attend the informative sessions, which will highlight the best in education, technology, defense, and more.
Vice Admiral Bill Moran, USN, provided the service keynote address. Moran stressed the importance of having better insight into the talents and skills of today’s warfighters in order to modernize training and technology to meet and exceed expectations to retain skilled, younger generations in all services.
Smith then introduced his company’s CEO and founder, Waymon Armstrong, to give the industry keynote address. Armstrong spoke of his deep admiration for the military sparked by his father’s service in World War II. He noted his inspiration in seeing his high school and college alma maters – Bishop Moore High School, Valencia College, and University of Central Florida – in attendance at this I/ITSEC. His education at these fine institutions has helped him lead his company, ECS, as a first adopter of computer game technology. Armstrong noted that he and his partner were energized after tragedies such as Columbine; inspired to discover a way to implement the use of video games and gaming for a positive purpose.
Armstrong went on to share his personal story of starting ECS, and the personal sacrifices he and his family made, but the highlight of his heartfelt speech was when he publicly thanked his wife, Frances, for her dedication to him, especially during the establishment of their company.
Armstrong said he is proud to make a difference for the warfighters, and went on to discuss the “spirit of entrepreneurship.” He feels we are all entrepreneurs, industry and government alike. He explained the definition as individuals and organizations that manage projects and budgets, those who innovate and take risks, and those who are not afraid of failure, and stay creative. He closed by stating, “It’s not about us; it’s about the warfighter.”
In the ceremony closing, Rear Admiral James A. Robb, USN (Ret.), president, National Training and Simulation Association, thanked Smith and the conference committee, and encouraged attendees to think outside the box and embrace the Black Swan concept.