Steering the way into the future

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An expo participant tests a maritime simulator
A participant in the 2010 Innovation Expo tests a maritime simulator. The array of exhibits at the expo showcased creative approaches to problem solving, greener solutions and diversity of ideas. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written by Cmdr. Andrea Palermo.

Mock set up of an entry control point
The Coast Guard Deployable Operations Group set up a mock port security unit entry control point during the 2010 Innovation Expo. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Throughout its history, the Coast Guard has adopted and fostered a solution-oriented “can do” mindset promoting initiative. Our founding father, Alexander Hamilton, encouraged Revenue Cutter Service captains to develop and share ideas and suggestions about operations as far back as 1791.

Fast forward to 2011, the Coast Guard and its leaders are embracing and empowering innovative ideas now more than ever.

A little more than a decade ago, the Service established the Innovation Expo at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. The purpose was to foster creativity and turn ideas into reality. The resulting cost-savings solutions and collaborative brain storming has sparked interest from all corners, including the maritime and defense industry, small business and those working in the maritime field turning the Expo into a multi-faceted event sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association.

A Coast Guardsman tests a ride stabilization system
A participant in the 2010 Innovation Expo tests a ride stabilization system. The array of exhibits at the expo showcased creative approaches to problem solving, greener solutions and diversity of ideas. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

While the expo is held annually in various cities across the nation, this year it will convene in Tampa, Fla., October 25-27. This waterside venue offers an ideal location for participating members to showcase innovative solutions, troubleshoot challenges and join forces with federal, state and local agencies, private organizations and academic institutions.

With more than 2,500 attendees bringing whizbang technologies and vast experience to more than 250 exciting booths, visitors and participants will get a glimpse of future military and industry equipment, assets and capabilities including environmentally friendly innovative solutions, enhanced maritime domain awareness technology and improved weapons systems. Many of the booths are interactive with simulation and hands-on activity turning the Exhibit Hall a-buzz with excitement and inspiration. Attendees will see ideas that have literally transformed how the Coast Guard conducts daily operations.

“Innovation: Enriching Today – Preparing for Tomorrow” is a theme that underscores the importance of collaboration, as the Coast Guard develops creative solutions in a dynamic global environment. From search and rescue, to marine environmental protection, to safeguarding our ports innovative ideas are critical to our success.

Light bulb efficiencies expo booth
A Coast Guardsman demonstrates lighting efficiencies at a booth during the 2010 Innovation Expo. The array of exhibits at the expo showcased creative approaches to problem solving, greener solutions and diversity of ideas. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

“The Innovation Expo celebrates the enduring Coast Guard innovative culture inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s leadership so many years ago” said Cmdr. Hugh Griffiths, the Coast Guard’s innovation manager. “Innovators, both novice and experienced, from diverse government, industry and academia backgrounds come to this venue to collaborate on important service priorities,” he said. “It is invigorating to watch the creativity and productive discussions going on all around.”

To follow the Innovation Expo online, you can attend the virtual event on Facebook where we’ll take you down on the exhibit floor to visit booths to meet the men and women of the Coast Guard who are cooking up ideas and innovations to address the Service’s ever-changing challenges.

In addition, we will introduce past Innovation Expo winners, and provide information on the Innovation Council and the Innovation Program. Once the floor opens, visit us frequently throughout the three-day conference. We’ll provide access to panel discussions and updates/summaries on guest speakers.

Come follow the excitement and share your own ideas.

For additional information, please visit the Coast Guard’s Innovation website.

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