Montgomery’s military partners make multiple positive marks on the city and region, and each year, the Department of the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower Conference (DAFITC) puts several of the points most pivotal to the city’s progress on display. DAFITC is the Department of Defense’s largest IT and cyberspace event, and one the Department of the Air Force considers critical to its mission thanks to its ability to foster innovation with an exchange of ideas among government, academia and private industry. The 2022 event was held downtown on August 29-31 and explored the theme “A Resilient Digital Air and Space Force: Enabling Deterrence Through Cyber.”
Here’s a snapshot of the topics discussed, the powerful impacts made and the value the capital city brings to and receives from the event.
YOUR CHAMBER, AT WORK
The Chamber’s tech and innovation arms, TechMGM and The Lab on Dexter, played key roles in DAFITC.
- Hosted innovateAFITC, a hackathon and cyber challenge for students and Airmen
- Co-hosted a Women’s Leadership Luncheon
- Co-hosted a HBCU NPHC Mixer with Innovate Alabama
- Partnered with Montgomery TechLab to hold a HBCE
- ROTC Mentoring Session
- Co-hosted The Alabama Collective’s Blacks in Tech & Innovation Roundtable Event
- Participated in AFCEA High School Education Day
- Hosted The Lab on Dexter’s 1 Year Anniversary Reception
- Launched its podcast, Lab Talk
This year’s DAFITC attendees didn’t just take away increased IT knowledge. They also gained a deeper understanding of Montgomery’s story and how the city factors into the future of the tech and innovation space. “They now understand that we are an integral part of the growth of the Air Force tech community as it works to be more inclusive and diverse,” said Charisse Stokes, Executive Director of TechMGM. “In addition, they had an opportunity to learn more about our culture and the future of the city, not just our past.”
DIVERSITY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
For many, the DAFITC’s events focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) this year were big highlights. It was the first time the schedule included specific events to emphasize and spotlight minority talent and impact. “We had great attendance, participation and engagement from students, alumni, administrators and supporters of our local HBCUs,” said Charisse Stokes. “In addition, this was the first year we had four women keynotes at the conference itself. Seeing and hearing from women in such senior positions across the IT arena was absolutely phenomenal!”
The 2022 DAFITC event featured multiple game-changing “firsts,” each resulting in ripple effects that will be felt across the River Region.
- Held the conference in-person since 2019.
- Had the Chief of Staff of Air Force and the Secretary of the Air Force speaking at the conference on the same day.
- Hosted four women keynotes: the Chief Information Officer for the Air Force, Google’s Director of User Experience, the Senior VP for Palo Alto Networks and the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for the United States Space Force.
- Integrated HBCU events into the conference.
- Integrated Restaurant Week into the conference.
- Hosted a mentoring session for ROTC Cadets to collaborate with HBCU Alumni Cadets.
- Montgomery TechLAB launched an in-person cohort for the accelerator program and had cohort participants involved and engaged in the conference activities.
- The Alabama Collective hosted a Blacks in Tech Roundtable event in conjunction with DAFITC and HBCUs.
- Senior level executives attending the conference conducted on-site visits to Chamber partners like Trenholm and AUM’s Artificial Intelligence Lab.
- EdFarm hosted learning labs with high school students at the conference alongside enhanced experiences and activities.
“DAFITC highlights the great work our military mission partners are doing in the tech and innovation space. It brings in IT professionals both commercial and military from across the globe into our city to discuss the latest technology trends, products, services and solutions to protect and advance our nation. There are enormous economic development benefits to the city, but it also helps to emphasize the large density of tech expertise and talent within our community and state.” – Charisse Stokes, TechMGM Executive Director