Virtual keynote praises Autotest technology

St. Louis, MO. Autotest board chair Bob Rassa of Raytheon welcomed attendees to the conference's 50th anniversary during this morning's plenary session. The conference will henceforth resume its “Autotestcon” name. As for the one-year “Autotest” experiment, he said, “We tried it and didn't like it.” He was followed by Autotest 2014 general chair Chris Clendenin of Boeing, who acknowledged the more than 50 conference attendees from the four branches of the U.S. military, whose representation had been minimal at last year's show because of DoD policies related to budgeting and sequestration.

Clendenin then introduced Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL), who delivered the keynote address via video, as his personal appearance in St. Louis was precluded by being called back to Washington to discuss urgent matters. Shimkus praised attendees, whether they represent large companies like Boeing or small startups for working on the cutting edge of technology to reduce maintenance costs and identify problems before catastrophic failures can occur.

He also praised the DoD for returning to the conference and expressed hope that its participation would grow in the future. Nevertheless, he said fiscal challenges remain great. He acknowledged the success of the Ryan-Murphy budget deal in forestalling sequestration for another year and half, but, he warned, further cuts are coming unless Congress can conduct serious negotiations on cutting mandatory spending.

The primary role of government is to protect its citizens, the former infantryman said, adding, “Defense of our nation has always been important to me. The world is a dangerous place.” With an emergent Russia fomenting instability, he said, Europe is more dangerous than it's been in decades.

He cited the importance of working on legislation this week regarding the passage of a continuing budged resolution and measures to deal with ISIL. He said he supports U.S. efforts to train the Free Syrian Army to fight ISIL. “I know there are a lot of aviators here,” he told Autotest attendees, “but we need boots on the ground.” That statement, he said, is not to downplay the role of the technology enabled by Autotest participants.

He concluded by saying, “Thank you for coming to St. Louis. We appreciate what you do for the country.”

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