BOSTON (May 3, 2012) -- Visitors usually come to the Massachusetts State House to watch the legislature in action, not to learn about what Soldiers wear, carry and eat.

May 2 was no ordinary day on Beacon Hill, however. It marked the 6th annual Natick Soldier Systems Center Showcase, hosted by Sen. Karen Spilka of the 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk district in which NSSC is situated.

Each year, NSSC gives legislators, their staffs and the public a look at the technologies their tax dollars have helped develop to keep service members safe, comfortable and effective. This year's displays continued that tradition.

"Since 1954 -- nearly 60 years -- the U.S. Army has conducted its most advanced research on Soldier equipment at the Natick Soldier Systems Center," Spilka said. "Its mission is very simple, yet also very powerful: to provide America's Soldiers with the best equipment in the world.

"You just have to look around and see the incredible things that the Soldier Systems Center is doing, and it truly exemplifies the spirit that we hold so dear in Massachusetts -- the spirit of innovation and ingenuity -- to reach new heights in technical advances to protect our servicemen and women in combat. This is just a sampling of what goes on there."

Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray followed Spilka to the podium and pointed out that NSSC's workforce of 1,880 includes recipients of 1,200 advanced degrees that range from aerospace engineering to zoology.

"What's displayed here saves lives," said Murray as he looked out on booths bristling with technology. "It protects the men and women who serve in some of the most treacherous conditions that you can imagine. It also provides a role in making sure that our first responders here in Massachusetts and in this country also have state-of-the-art equipment.

"It's a vital national security mission, a vital public safety mission that goes on here in providing first-class equipment."

Murray said that improving the Massachusetts workforce through science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, training is a necessity.

"And Natick and the leadership at the base have really redoubled their effort in that regard," Murray said. "Not only is the work that they do going to be reinforced, but it helps the entire commonwealth compete and win."

Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, said that work done at NSSC helps U.S. war fighters deployed around the world.

"It's very important work that they do in protecting our country and protecting those who serve, and we thank them for that," Bialecki said. "These displays that you see today just begin to touch on and give you a sense of the remarkable research and development that is going on there."

Other speakers included Sen. Richard Ross, Rep. David Linsky, Rep. Alice Peisch, Sen. James Timilty, Sen. Thomas McGee, Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, Rep. Michael Brady, and Brig. Gen. John J. McGuiness, NSSC senior commander.

McGuiness urged those in attendance to visit the displays, examine the technology and ask questions of those who provide service members with the world's finest equipment.

"We're a joint force. We're a joint base," McGuiness said. "We solve joint problems."