CAMX Kicks Off with Keynote and Awards


CAMX 2014 opened with its general session, featuring a keynote address by Kevin Mickey, president of Scaled Composites LLC. Mickey focused on CAMX's theme of innovation in his remarks, urging composites companies to cultivate an attitude he described as, "If you can dream it, you can build it." Mickey, who has been in the aerospace industry for close to thirty years – 23 of them at Scaled Composites and four at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works – knows a thing or two about leading innovative teams.

Scaled Composites has broad experience with air vehicle design, tooling and manufacturing, composites structure design and analysis, and fabrication. The company has been involved in numerous firsts in aerospace including:

  • SpaceShipOne – the first privately funded, manned, high-altitude, suborbital rocket
  • The first private aircraft to exceed Mach 3
  • The first private aircraft to exceed altitudes of 100km
  • The first private reusable spacecraft
  • The fastest global, non-stop, unrefueled circumnavigation
  • The longest nonstop, unrefueled flight
  • SpaceShipTwo – a prototype of the world's first commercial operations spacecraft consisting of an aircraft launched rocket. It was the largest all-composite aircraft ever built.

Mickey, who noted that "success is rarely easy," says that successful companies must make room for innovation by:

  • Taking calculated risks – Mickey feels too many companies are afraid to take risks and consequently miss out on innovation.
  • Persevering in the face of adversity (SpaceShipOne's development included a fire and a hard landing.)
  • Employing tireless, insanely optimistic leaders who are willing to help set audacious goals.
  • Remaining flexible - for example, allowing staff to run to the hardware store at 6 p.m. for a bolt rather than stop working because of stringent supply procedures.
  • Promoting exciting projects that get staff fired up to come to work in the morning.
  • Creating an environment marked by fun and innovation without career impact, which gives employees creativity and the freedom to innovate.
  • Rapid prototyping – Mickey notes that when innovating, "It is better to be wrong fast."

The general session also included the presentation of two new CAMX Awards recognizing cutting-edge innovations and innovators that are shaping the future of composites and advanced materials in the marketplace. Sponsored by Ashland Inc., the following inaugural CAMX Awards were presented:

  • The Combined Strength Award was presented to NASA in cooperation with Boeing for the Composite Cryotank Technologies & Demonstration (CCTD) project. This award recognizes a composites product that clearly demonstrates a team approach and effort that brings together knowledge, resources and talent to produce an incredible example of the best use of composites materials that solves a problem.
  • The Unsurpassed Innovation Award was presented to Composite Panel Systems LLC for Epitome Quality Foundation Walls for a composites product that clearly demonstrates a novel design which bridges high-performance materials and low-volume manufacturing, or vice versa, to create an innovative product with the potential to significantly impact new markets.