MMAC Leadership Attends Oklahoma Aerospace Forum
Vol.7 Issue 8
Oklahoma Aerospace Forum took place on Thursday, October 28th, 2021 at the Oklahoma City Convention Center

The Oklahoma Aerospace Forum was held at the new Oklahoma City Convention Center on October 28th, 2021. Leading aerospace executives from around the state gathered and discussed the current state of aerospace in Oklahoma, technology advancements, lessons learned and workforce development.

Aviation is the second largest industry in Oklahoma with an annual economic impact of $44 billion. The forum is an important event for businesses to discuss opportunities facing the aviation sector. This year’s Keynote speaker was United States Air Force retired General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, who is the president and CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association.

Opening of the Oklahoma Aerospace Forum in the Oklahoma City Convention Center

Several breakout sessions were held in the afternoon. James Grimsley, Choctaw Nation’s UAS Executive Director moderated a panel who discussed technological advancements and the future of aerospace in Oklahoma. On that panel were representatives from Skydweller, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, Infinite Composites Technologies, Tinker OKC Air Logistics Complex, and Frontier Electronic Systems.

Leaders in Oklahoma’s aerospace industry shared lessons learned from COVID (how the industry is pivoting in a new era). Alex Sedlacek, Senior Commercial Relationship Manager of INTRUST Bank moderated representatives from Acorn Growth Companies, Boeing, and Kratos Defense Unmanned Systems who discussed supply chain, workforce and how the aviation industry has pivoted during the past year and a half during the COVID crisis.

USAF General (ret) Hawk Carlisle was Keynote speaker for the 2021 Oklahoma Aerospace Forum

Discussing Oklahoma’s efforts to elevate aerospace, a panel was comprised of Oklahoma’s Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma Aerospace Commission Director Grayson Ardies, Delaware Resources Group (DRG) CEO Phil Busey, Sr., OK Department of Commerce Aerospace State Director Geoff Camp and AAR Vice President of Workforce Development Ryan Goertzen. This session covered how Oklahoma is working to bring in new skilled workers, train and recruit, market and brand the state as a “fly-to” state, and possible incentives for companies to take up residence here.

Senator Jim Inhofe’s Chief of Staff, Luke Holland, provides closing remarks for the Oklahoma Aerospace Forum

The last breakout session of the day covered workforce development and the education renaissance. Panelists discussed how education is connecting to industry for research and development, training, and how we need to prepare the workforce pipeline for the skills needed in today’s aerospace companies. Aaron Emberton, Cherokee Nation’s senior Advisor, moderated a panel consisting of representatives from Rose State College, Oklahoma Department of Career Technology and Education, the Air Force Association’s Cyber Patriot and Stellar Xplorers program, Oklahoma State University’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute and the University of Oklahoma’s Gallogly College of Engineering.

Kim Sheppard, Chief of Staff for the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, raised a point during the discussion stating, “We should target the airports in our state with marketing which shows our rich aviation history, but also shows that the industry has a future here as well.”

Following the breakout sessions, Senator Jim Inhofe’s Chief of Staff, Luke Holland, provided closing remarks about the importance of the aerospace industry to our community. He stressed his commitment to supporting efforts and promoting the growth of the aerospace industry in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Aerospace Forum was held in Oklahoma City’s new Convention Center
Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal