After three years, SAME’s Joint Engineer Training Conference and Expo returned with an in-person event in 2022. More than 2,000 attendees came together in Aurora, Colo., for three days of education and training, premier tabletop exercises, forums, demonstration, and a celebration of SAME achievements, including the Investiture of the Class of 2022 in the Academy of Fellows and the long-awaited Centennial Ball.
In the time since the last in-person JETC, the world has been turned upside down. Disruptions across supply chains, talent and labor shortages, and a persistent pandemic threaten our nation, and the pace of change will only continue to accelerate. As attendees heard throughout the week, this confluence of factors remains the outstanding challenge to national security. Overcoming this “perfect storm” and delivering for our nation means being able to drive innovative organizations able to pivot and adapt faster than the pace of change that surrounds us.
In an inspiring and provocative keynote address to start off the week, Peter Sheahan, Author and CEO of The Karrikins Group, challenged attendees to change their status quo ways of thinking in order to transform their organizations to adapt to the challenges of tomorrow. Sheahan broke this transformational journey down into three main “leaps”: being honest and telling ourselves the truth; putting tension on the organization ourselves; and going first as a leader.
At the Executive Leaders Panel, government agency and uniformed services executive leaders from the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations briefed the audience on a current state of their programs and the headwinds facing those programs. At this inflection point, emerging factors such as the labor and talent shortage and near-peer competition driving a focus on the Pacific are reacting with and compounding historical factors such as aging infrastructure and climate change. Within this, however, comes a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize delivery processes and approaches, throw out old ways of thinking, innovate, and reinvent to better serve and deliver for the nation. On the final day, Brig. Gen. Jesse Morehouse, Deputy Director, Strategy, Plans, and Policy, U.S. Space Command, shed some light on how DOD is currently thinking about space and how the multidimensional conflicts of today that touch not just land, sea, and air but the cyber and space domains as well require increased collaboration and joint force coordination.
While there is no magic bullet, the one certainty reiterated all three days of the conference was the criticality of learning from and partnering with industry. By keeping the door open to learning and collaborating with industry, whether it is at JETC or other industry-government engagement events, new approaches, technologies, and ways of thinking can be shared to find a way through the challenges of the day. Brig. Gen. Morehouse said it best: “The good news is that this type of innovation is something that I think that SAME is well positioned to tackle—obviously in collaboration with vendors across the commercial and government continuum—but I suspect that if anyone can get it right, you all can get this right.”
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Alongside the insightful general sessions, attendees enjoyed unmatched education and training, with over 70 sessions covering topics in architecture, energy, construction, environmental issues, leadership, and more. Additionally, the Joint Engineering Contingency Operations COI and Facility Asset Management COI offered in-depth exercises, demonstrations, and forums throughout the conference to share knowledge and advance the industry.
The Joint Engineering Contingency Operations COI hosted four Warfighter Seminars. These seminars with senior uniformed leaders and executives identified and addressed a variety of issues facing the joint engineering community: Fast Delivery of Operational Facilities & Infrastructure; Countering Adverse Influences and Impacts on Overseas Contractors by Allies, Competitors, and Adversaries; Contingency Operations: Collaboration between Military, Contractors, and Contracting Officials; and Integration of Innovative Technology into Military Engineering.
New this year was the Facility Asset Management Forum, which was hosted by the Facility Asset Management COI. Modeled after the Warfighter Seminars, the forum offered an opportunity for participants from across military and federal agencies, private industry, and academia to share ideas and collaborate on issues facing the facility management sector, in particular the current asset management landscape, its main drivers for change, and opportunities for enterprise-wide policy changes and initiatives.
Also new this year was a GeoWERX II demonstration in the exhibit hall held by the Geospatial Working Group, which is part of the Facility Asset Management COI. This live demonstration brought together professionals from both DOD and industry to showcase a number of different tools and capabilities for collecting, managing, and leveraging geospatial data, using the convention center itself as a case study.
CELEBRATING A CENTURY OF SAME
Attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to come together and celebrate the achievements of fellow members, including the long-awaited Centennial Celebration marking the 100 year anniversary of SAME. In its first in-person investiture since 2019, the Academy of Fellows officially welcomed its newest 21 members during the Investiture Luncheon. Also celebrating the opportunity to finally be back in person, the Leader Development Program held its graduation ceremony for the 2021-2022 class. Graduates of the first and second Leader Development Class (which had virtual graduations) took turns in the spotlight, enjoying applause from friends and colleagues in person rather than over a computer. Altogether, the four classes honored represented over 60 upcoming engineering and thought leaders.
The closing session also marked the official change in SAME leadership, as Rear Adm. Mark Handley, P.E., F.SAME, USN (Ret.), swore in the 103rd National President, Cindy Lincicome, F.SAME. A dedicated volunteer across the Pikes Peak, Denver Metro, and Frontier Posts, as well as a former RVP for the Rocky Mountain Region, Lincicome noted how special it was to accept the National President role in Colorado amongst her family and friends. She challenged the audience to get more engaged with the Society, commit to the first goal of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan to strengthen industry-government engagement, and be the next one to stand on the stage where she was.
The Society Gala and Centennial Ball capped off the week. The celebration not only highlighted this year’s distinguished awardees and medal winners but also commemorated SAME’s last 100 years. To officially close out the Centennial Celebration, a time capsule full of postcards to the future, artifacts, and SAME memorabilia was sealed, to be opened in 2120.