For the second year in a row a company that specializes in national defense was awarded the 2005 Alexandria Technology Achievement Award during a luncheon last Friday at the Radisson Hotel Old Town honoring this year's four finalists.
"This is a great honor and wholly unexpected. The fact that we support intelligence agencies in helping them find the bad guys to protect our nation, cities and families makes our business very patriotic," said Pete Howton, CEO, Gray Hawk System, Inc.
Gray Hawk, located on Ford Avenue in Alexandria, provides systems engineering, risk assessment and data visualization support services to the Federal Government, according to the description in the event program.
Founded in 1995 by Howton and "a few friends," the company provided engineering, testing and maintenance support at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, according to Angie Bowler, marketing\communications specialist, Gray Hawk Systems, Inc. It now employs over 500.
In presenting the award, Mayor William D. Euille, said, "We have recognized more than 40 companies from more than 300 entries since this program was initiated. I have nominated several and this year one of my nominees has won."
He also noted that Alexandria is currently home to more than 400 technology enterprises employing in excess of 12,000 people. It is considered a technology center in Northern Virginia.
PRIOR TO NAMING the winner, the audience packing the hotel ballroom was treated to a film focusing on the accomplishments of each finalist. It is produced annually by the T.C. Williams T.V. Production Class under the guidance of teacher Vilma Zefran and senior producer John Brandon. Segment producers are Tim Ahern, Patrick Crook, Matt Givens, Jeremy Heffner, Christy Johnson, Will McAdoo, David Rowan and Matt Yurow.
By highlighting the achievements of each of the four finalists, the awards luncheon is the culmination of Alexandria Technology Achievement Week which is jointly sponsored by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership,Inc. (AEDP), and the City.
As stated in the event program, "The four finalists represent the best in the application and utilization of technology in the City of Alexandria." Each was evaluated on the basis of "the technological achievement and/or impact on business, industry and/or City of Alexandria." They represented a cross section of organizations "in which technology has been applied in new and innovative ways."
OTHER CITY-BASED finalists were: Forum One Communications, for development of a web-based collaborative tool enabling groups of people to communicate and collaborate across organizational and geographic boundaries; Sentel Corporation, for developing a system allowing one or more transmitters to be interconnected while minimizing the threat of interference or jamming; and Inova Alexandria Hospital Medical Surgical Intensive Care for its implementation of a critical care eICU System which provides 24/7 patient monitoring and clinical analysis to supplement and enhance on-site care of critically ill patients.
All four were selected by a three judge panel consisting of Brad Gardner, Defense Group, Inc., the 2004 winner; Brian Hunt, City Commission on Information Technology; and Philip Sunderland, Alexandria's former city manager.
In addition to recognizing the award recipient, each year the program includes a featured speaker associated with technology innovation and advancement. This year that role was fulfilled by I.J. Hudson, technology reporter, NBC, News Channel 4, who broadcasts a daily news segment entitled, "The Digital Edge."
Hudson reviewed a host of technological advancements that are being utilized to improve production and efficiency in both the work place and daily lives. However, he said, "It's what we do with these things. It's not about the technology itself. The ideas about how to use these technological tools -- that is what's really important."
He pointed out that there are more technology jobs in the greater Washington area today than government jobs. He also urged more use of technology to increase teleworking.
"Collaborative tools allow people to do a series of things all in separate locations. This allows for virtual offices and through video imaging there can still be interaction," he said. Hudson also pointed out teleworking has a direct benefit to society as a whole by cutting down on clogged roadways, air pollution, and commuting stress.
INTRODUCING HUDSON was Vice Mayor Redella "Del" Pepper, co-chair of the original technology committee in 1997. She noted that Hudson was not only an award-winning reporter but he had also received an award from the American Kidney Foundation "for his outstanding efforts in recruiting volunteers to transport kidney patients to life-saving dialysis treatments during one of Washington's worst snow storms."
Serving as master of ceremony for the luncheon was R. Mark McLindon, C.A. Consulting, Inc., chairman, Alexandria Technology Achievement Week Committee. Joining McLindon as part of this year's committee were: Paula Riley, executive director, and Mike Stuart, marketing specialist, AEDP; Barbara Lord, vice president, Communications, and Ken Moore, president and CEO, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce; Kendel Taylor, budget analyst, OMB, City of Alexandria; City Councilman Rob Krupicka; and Vice Mayor Pepper.