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On the leading edge of the digital age

by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor
photo by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
With as many screens and controls as a launch control station at NASA, the control room for the auditorium is very impressive. From here you can monitor and operate nearly every piece of equipment in the building from a single chair. ...

The Mission Planning Center on Bayshore Boulevard is Air Mobility Command's 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility for fulfilling Air Force and Department of Defense conference needs at MacDill. It is designed to support large-scale events or multiple small meetings thanks to having a wide variety of conference, seminar and meeting rooms. The technology available for use covers a wide array of components from DVD players in the auditorium, to complete working offices available for visitors who still need to put in a full day's work.

The centerpiece of the Misson Planning Center is a spacious and professional auditorium on the east side of the building. It boasts seating for 150 people on the first floor, as well as 100 more spaces in the balcony. A massive screen with single and dual projection capability is the focal point, but the technical wizardry doesn't stop there. The control room looks like a small version of NASA with multi-media capturing and broadcast ability available on request.

Master Sgt. Adiel O. Recuero, non-commissioned officer in charge of audiovisual services, laid out some of the more intimate details in the room, "Every seat in the conference room has a phone connection, a LAN line, fiber optics and hook ups for a laptop computer. There is also a translator booth and headphones available for anyone who might require that service."

Moving on from the auditorium at the southern end of the building is the Corona room, which is large enough to seat 125, and boasts nearly all of the same amenities. Single and dual screen projection, DVD, CD and cassette players and Pentium 3 computers are just part of the list of gadgets ready for use. For any discussions that might need to be classified, secure video teleconferencing is also a part of the total package.

The distinguished visitor suites just down the hall from the Corona room have state-of-the-art work places with six dedicated executive support offices. There is a private general officer conference room with a cable ready, plasma screen DVD player, and as always, computers standing at the ready with hook ups in each room for portable laptops. No corners were cut when this office space was designed; even the kitchen sink has a beautiful luster.

There are six meeting rooms on the first floor and two on the second with single screen projection, DVD and CD players, computers and in-house conference viewing available. These rooms seat 25 each and can be expanded to seat up to 75, depending on the events requirements.

While the view from the Grand Hall and Terrace on the east side of the Mission Planning Center is of construction of a park which will include a pavilion and pier, however, when finished it will offer a great view of the bay during social events in the coming months. There is a portable sound system available for the 200 plus space, and plenty of

room in the hall in case an afternoon shower shows up unannounced.

Kitchen facilities on the north side of the building and a full complement of food service items make conference break service simple, especially when full catering is available right next door at the Officer's Club.

While all the high-tech components and impressive size and scale might intimidate smaller organizations looking to reserve a space there, reservations can be as simple as picking up the phone.

There are some guidelines for attaining space for events, said Staff Sgt. Julie Roach, non-commissioned officer in charge of conference services. These can be found in the Air Force Instruction and MacDill Operating Instruction. "Conferences, meetings, commander's calls and ceremonies can be scheduled in the center on a space available basis," said Sergeant Roach. "MacDill has numerous facilities available to host small conferences, meetings and workshops; however, very few are available to host the large ones."

While the facility is being used on a daily basis since opening in the summer last year, the official dedication will be Monday, when the MPC will be designated the The Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Conference Center.




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