Keeping pace with the latest developments in measurement equipment and techniques is not easy, even for engineers who are fanatical about test gear. But for those who like to know what fellow professionals are doing in the area of automated test and measurement, one of the best annual learning resources is almost upon us: the 51stAUTOTESTCON. Sponsored by the IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Society, AUTOTESTCON 2015 is scheduled for Nov. 2-5, 2015, in the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor, Md. It is an annual gathering of the military/aerospace automatic test industry and those in military and government in need of the latest test equipment and measurement solutions.
AUTOTESTCON has long been known as a favorite technical meeting place for certain government agencies with measurement challenges, especially those organizations that must work covertly, such as the CIA and the NSA. While the conference still serves the needs of those government agencies, it has grown through the years into a more comprehensive symposium on many different measurement techniques. The 2015 AUTOTESTCON promises more than 100 technical sessions covering a wide range of topics including: managing obsolescence; evaluating automatic-test-equipment (ATE) software; enhancing the reliability of different types of test equipment and systems; and challenges in monitoring health under different working conditions.
The event also features two keynote speakers, one from the military and one from the measurement industry. John Johns, deputy assistant secretary of defense (maintenance) for the U.S. Department of Defense provides guidance and leadership for the DoD’s $80 billion weapons system maintenance program. Dr. James Truchard is president and CEO of National instruments, a test firm that has grown and expanded through acquisitions and offers innovative ATE as well as design and test software. He was one of the co-founders of National Instruments in 1976 and has been a pioneer and innovator in modular measurement solutions.
Admittedly, this is a specialized conference, devoted to measurements and testing for military customers. While technical areas such as cellular, wireless, and satellite communications (satcom) may promise continuing rapid growth rates for many years to go, the application of automated test to military devices and systems has been an ongoing necessity. In fact, many of the solutions developed for this part of the technical test world eventually find their way in some shape or form into the commercial world, helping to maintain the performance of such things as cellular base stations or satcom earth stations.
AUTOTESTCON 2015 also offers an exhibition area that will feature some of the more prominent names in the test-and-measurement field, including Anritsu Co., Marvin Test Systems, Keysight Technologies, and Rohde & Schwarz. The show floor also includes some of the best-known companies working at the system level, on such products as covert communications and missile-guidance systems, including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Additional booths are occupied by such outfits as the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Show attendees are made up of a healthy mix of military and industry professionals.
It is a small and focused technical conference and exhibition, but one of the better engineering educational bargains you’ll see, with a top entrance fee of $945 for those who are not IEEE members. For IEEE members and members of the U.S. military, the fees are considerably lower, providing an economical means of quickly learning about the test-and-measurement needs of the U.S. military.