Coffee & Concepts brewing at Griffiss Business and Technology Park

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ROME — Whether it’s for professional collaboration or simple camaraderie, Innovare Advancement Center at 592 Hangar Road, and its Innovare Elevation Series, is hosting the Coffee & Concepts event every first and third Thursday of the month from 10-11 a.m., which is also open to the public.

The event is meant as a networking opportunity for scientists, engineers, company representatives and other professionals at Griffiss Business and Technology Park, as well as neighboring businesses in the community and academia that are interested in working cooperatively with GBTP companies, or who would simply like to learn more about what is happening on the former Air Force Base.

Meetings are held in the first floor cafe at Innovare and feature Utica Coffee and pastries.

Griffiss Institute Community Manager Melissa Tallman said attendees are encouraged to grab a cup of coffee, and chat.

About what?

“Anything tech related; how does something work, the new quantum lab inside the Innovare Advancement Center, happenings within the Mohawk Valley, cyber security, an idea you have, what is a SBIR/STTR (Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Research), you can just talk tech concepts over coffee,” she said.

And while the event lasts an hour, attendees may stay as long as they like.

Chad Lawrence, facility test flight manager for Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation, shared that NASC’s Rome location has been a major test flight facility for drones for the last seven years, and continues to expand its operations.

In February 2020, NASC successfully completed a test flight of the NASC TEROS UAV, Technology Demonstrator at the NASC Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Operations and Training Center at Griffiss International Airport.

NASC, headquartered in Warminster, Pa., has provided engineering and technical services in support of the Department of Defense and industry since 1977.

Today, the specialized products and services of NASC are being used in multiple operational theaters around the world.

As for the Coffee & Concepts event, “It’s great just to all get together in person,” he said. “NASC is a huge community organization and anything we can do to support our
community, and Oneida County, we do.”

Even if attendees only have time to grab a cup of coffee and stay five minutes, “This is a great place to share ideas, and network with like-minded individuals,” said Tallman. Attendees may discuss “how they can collaborate, work together and make connections to reach their goals. You never know who you may meet here.”

For companies contracted with the Department of Defense that may want to learn how to work together to benefit each other, “this helps break barriers,” the community manager added. The atmosphere is of “casual conversation, and those in the industry can even discuss how to trouble-shoot with workforce development” and other challenges.

“We had some young entrepreneurs from Syracuse looking to develop a business and were here last month to get a feel for what the area has to offer,” said Tallman. “They said they would go back to their hometown to compare options, but plan on visiting here again next month.”

Dawn Rava-Crofoot,  a project analyst at the Griffiss Institute, discussed opportunities for members of academia to work with the U.S. Air Force through the informational institute.

Programs

Authorized by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, and with funding provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and contract management executed by the Griffiss Institute, the Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employee (VICEROY) Program is intended to increase the quantity and quality of U.S. students who possess job-ready Department of Defense cybersecurity skills upon graduation. The approach is to augment traditional college curricula by providing hands-on, experiential learning and internship opportunities that are uniquely tailored to match the workforce demands of the Armed Services, DoD and Defense Industrial Base partners.

“During the past year” the VICEROY program, “presented 36 projects” and posters featuring those projects, “are on display at Innovare,” Rava-Crofoot said. VICEROY also collaborates with professors in the field. Dr. Hong Zhao, professor of electrical engineering at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J., is a visiting professor as part of the VICEROY program, and her university’s project appears on a third-floor wall at Innovare. She also attended the Coffee & Concepts event. Zhao works directly with engineers at GBTP as part of the fellowship program.

Dr. John Salerno, AI/ML subject matter expert and Information Institute Program deputy director, said the program averages 65 professors a year and 12 students. And Tiffany DeLuca, intern program lead and Assistant Facility Security Officer (AFSO), discussed her role as an intern coordinator for major internship programs this summer at AFRL/RI. Research topics will include Data Efficient Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Small Unmanned Aircraft System, Neuromorphic Computing, Trusted Software and Quantum Information Sciences.

The AFRL/RI STEM Outreach Program, powered by Griffiss Institute and Innovare Advancement Center, will also host the 2022 AFRL Challenge Competition starting April 11 and commencing through the week of spring break, to once again be held in-person for high school teams. The intent of the competition is to provide a more realistic view into the types of high-tech problems the nation is facing today, and how engineers and researchers go about dissecting and solving these problems.

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