July 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 3 
Special Features

What goes into a Tech Expo?

Multivisual Boeing Technology Expositions and Exchanges are a big hit on the road, and it takes rare coordination skills to pull one off


What goes into a Tech Expo?Putting together a typical Boeing Technology Exposition and Exchange can be, well, a technological challenge.

Sometimes it involves enough muscle to put up a house, enough electricity to power a 100-unit apartment block, and enough carpeting for a Hollywood awards ceremony.

Tech Expos, as they are known, are designed to bring government customers up-to-date on Boeing's latest technologies and systems. They have evolved from technical reviews at customer sites which consisted mainly of overhead projector presentations, to glitzy, fast-moving multivisual events.

Pulling one off perfectly is all about timing. Miles of cable, hundreds of laptops and LCD monitors and plasma screens, and many other electronic marvels all have to work in perfect harmony when the power is turned on. And how do you go about shipping to a U.S. military base a full-scale model of the X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, a real Connexion by Boeing flying lab that can demonstrate live Internet connections, or a specially equipped Humvee that can receive and transmit data via satellite to Boeing engineers across the world?

Those kinds of brainteasers are an almost daily preoccupation for Phantom Works' Bill Body and his team, who frequently gear up to take Boeing's technology show on the road.

"There's hardly a tech expo that we can't deliver," said St. Louis-based Body, who has organized the multivisual shows between both coasts in the United States for the past 13 years. "Live demos in particular take an enormous amount of coordination. One snag can adversely affect a show that has taken months to prepare."

Boeing just completed a Tech Expo in Washington, D.C., for government customers, such as the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, NASA, the FAA and the legislative community. Last year in Huntsville, Ala., Boeing entertained NASA and U.S. Army customers at the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal. Boeing's air show and exhibits expert from southern California Dave Nadler supervised the unloading of three trucks containing exhibits from all over the United States. For this event, he needed 20,000 square feet of carpeting, 18,000 linear feet of 8-foot-by-4-foot wall panels, 300 technology posters, and what was essentially a small power station that consistently could deliver 208 volts to 750 laptops and 400 plasma screens. In this case he hired some 20 local workers for the expo.

"It takes about 30 people to pull off something like this," said Nadler, pausing between cell phone calls to his staff. Helping him are three Boeing floor supervisors: Tony Reistad of Puget Sound and Ken Hill and Chad Austin of St. Louis.

Referring to the tricky just-in-time aspects of Tech Expo logistics, Nadler said no exhibit can arrive before, or after, its time. Despite that, Nadler is surprisingly calm. "After a while you learn how to make things come together the way they should," he said with a smile.

What keeps him fired up?

"Every one of these shows is different, and every one of them is so satisfying," he said. "It's like embarking on a new adventure every time. And it's the best way in the world to find out what's on the minds of our customers."


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