November 11, 2010 by Mark Cramer, NMSU News Center
The annual UAS TAAC (Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technical Analysis and Applications Center) Conference, arranged and sponsored by New Mexico State University, takes place Dec. 7-9 at the Tamaya Hyatt Regency in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M. Between 400 and 500 guests are expected to attend, mainly from federal agencies, aviation user groups, universities and private industry.
“We have received national recognition as the best small UAS conference in the country,” said Steve Hottman, head of the department of 21st Century Aerospace at New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory, home of the TAAC.
NMSU’s first UAS TAAC conference–held 12 years ago as one of the first in the U.S.–focused primarily on the civil use of unmanned aircraft systems. A lot has changed since then, and the TAAC has adjusted the conference accordingly.
“The application of UAS has grown tremendously since 1998, particularly in the defense sector,” Hottman said. “We have kept up with this growth and made sure that the conference continues to be a valuable forum for the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies, as well as aerospace entrepreneurs. We are offering an eclectic composition of attendees and topics in both classified and open venues.”
While TAAC 2010 remains an intimate affair, the conference has grown significantly over the years; it attracts attendees from all regions of the U.S. and from numerous government and private organizations. New Mexico UAS stakeholders are well represented at the event, including the national laboratories, military organizations, universities and private industry. This year the conference again will take place at the Tamaya Hyatt Regency resort in Santa Ana Pueblo, north of Albuquerque.
“We try to bring in national leadership for the conference, with the goal of working as a group to move forward to make UAS applications and developments more accessible,” Hottman said. “It’s an idea exchange and a place to discuss research and development.”
The conference begins Dec. 7 with a keynote address from Dyke Weatherington, deputy director of Unmanned Warfare in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, followed by Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert P. “Bob” Otto, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at USAF headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Dec. 8 session kicks off with remarks from U.S. Air Force Gen. Will Fraser, commander, Air Combat Command. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael C. Kostelnik (ret.), assistant commissioner with the Office of Customs and Border Patrol in U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will join Gen. Fraser. The day will include a small UAS demonstration.
The Dec. 9 session takes place at a classified facility and is open to U.S. citizens with a minimal secret security clearance only. A complete agenda for the three-day event may be found at http://psl.nmsu.edu/uav/conferences/2010/agenda.php.
To register for the conference or for more information, visit http://psl.nmsu.edu/uav/conferences/2010/index.php. General session registration is $700, and registration for the classified session is $250. The registration deadline is Nov. 25.
The NMSU UAS team emphasizes research, development, test and evaluation activities to address a broad range of requirements and capabilities, including UAS development (platforms, communications, command and control) and evaluations of flight hardware technology such as airframes, engines, communications systems, flight control systems and payload. NMSU has unique capabilities in critical operational elements such as planning, airspace coordination and integration, standard processes and procedures, concepts of operations, human factors and training. The university is home to the only FAA-approved UAS testing space in the nation, with 15,000 square miles of airspace in which to operate.
The Arrowhead Center, NMSU’s economic development center, also plays a key role in the UAS TAAC Conference. The center is working to develop opportunities for aerospace businesses in southern New Mexico and beyond, partly in concert with the nearby Spaceport America, located near Truth or Consequences, N.M. The explosive growth and development of UAS, and the FAA-approved testing space, makes the area ideal for aerospace business and research firms, which also will be discussed at the conference.