AUSTIN, Texas — Teamwork and fellowship were among the key themes as more than 700 attendees gathered for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) annual conference in Austin this morning.

At the event’s opening keynote session, NASCIO President Mark Raymond, CIO of Connecticut, highlighted the value that state IT leaders find in networking opportunities available across the conference’s four days.

New features of this year’s event include increased emphasis on getting state CIOs and other public-sector tech leaders together to share ideas and create new relationships.

Scheduled events like “speed-networking” and “popup talks” help leaders come together to explore “the landscape and climate in which CIOs work,” Raymond said.

That spirit of collaboration was reflected in the keynote speech from Adam Seltzner, NASA scientist and the leader of the team that successfully designed and executed the “sky crane” that put the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars in 2012. 

Just as NASCIO this year is encouraging networking and connection, Seltzner emphasized the importance of teamwork at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory. “The product of our team is a direct reflection of our teamwork,” he said. While people may have brilliant ideas as individuals, he added, the most successful work happens when individuals come together.

Like NASA scientists, Seltzner said, public CIOs must “put old pieces of tech together in new ways to expand what we’re capable of.”