ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and the Federal Direct Access Expositions (FDAE) co-hosted the Fall Technology Expo at APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center Oct. 22.

The expo featured the latest in information technology and office products from 75 vendors representing 100 different companies and organizations.

More than 350 DOD, government and contractor personnel attended the free event which featured products ranging from wireless, remote-location communication devices to laboratory instruments to high-tech audio-visual equipment.

"This is such a huge Army post, with so many different commands, and technology helps those people do their jobs better," said Mark Flemister, FDAE co-owner.

Flemister co-organizes the biannual tech expos and believes the events are "just a phenomenal and easy way for all people on the installation to come interact with vendors and see what the latest applications are."

About 25 percent of vendors were first-time attendees, such as Mark Wheeler, director of auto acquisition company AQYR based in New Hampshire. Wheeler presented a one meter antenna dish that he hoped would interest Army employees at the expo.

The antenna dish, which is currently used by a relief organization fighting Ebola overseas, gives the user Internet access, teleconferencing, and the ability to send and practice telemedicine.

"Basically anything you could imagine doing at your desk with a laptop and phone, this [dish] does for you in the middle of nowhere," Wheeler said.

Wheeler is a Vietnam veteran and uses that experience and perspective to design products that are user-friendly.

"We have empathy for the people using our equipment so we make it all very intuitive and designed for people who don't have any tactical satellite communication training," Wheeler said.

Emerging technology

Several new products piqued ECBC employee Martin Pezzella's interest. He said he enjoys attending the APG tech expo every year.

"This event allows me to stay abreast of emerging technologies," Pezzella said. "I get my hands on [products]; I get to touch and meet; I put faces to names and it makes me feel good about the product, especially when I'm selecting important stuff that I might spend a lot of money on," he said.

Pezzella, who works as ECBC's video-teleconferencing technical specialist, said he appreciates not having to travel far to see new technology, and he leaves no stone unturned when interacting with vendors.

"I quiz the guys behind them [products]," he said. "I interrogate them with the tough, technical questions. I don't just go 'oh, that's a nice product.' I want to know the exact problems and concerns and I find that this forum is the best way to do that," Pezzella said.

This year's expo also included Microsoft Word and Excel information sessions. Dea Galloway, Army Test Center employee, "learned so much" at the morning session that she planned to attend the afternoon session as well.

"Before the training I didn't know exactly how to use it. So this was very helpful," Galloway said.

Another tech expo is planned for the spring of 2015.