Now in its fifth year, the DSET Conference and Workshop will be held 9-11 March in Bristol, UK. MS&T Editor Andy Fawkes spoke to its organisers Tess Butler and Sadie Lockett about its origins and what to expect at DSET 2020.


DSET (Defence Simulation Education and Training) was first held in 2016 to facilitate national and international military to military engagement and to inform industry of the challenges and opportunities ahead from a customer perspective. The agenda continues to be set by a military panel and speakers are invited and typically from the military or government. Although DSET has grown year on year to 400 participants from 100 in 2016 with a consistent balance of 60% military/government and 40% industry, Butler explained “we want quality rather than just quantity. It has to be valuable to everybody that attends. The military and government get something for their day job out of it and industry get a direct ROI”. As in 2019, prior to the two-day conference and exhibition there will be a workshop and as we will hear, DSET supports other initiatives throughout the year.

Innovation, Disruption and Diversity

Butler explained that the themes for 2020 were “innovation, disruption and diversity” which reflect the ambition of the British Army's Chief of the Field Army and are consistent messages that she receives from the DSET Military Advisory Panel (MAP). Understanding what the military customer wants is paramount to DSET with a “panel that runs throughout the year, which is online and that anyone can access through the website” Butler explained. They also engage directly with the military through a variety of different means, for example industry days for their programmes and through NATO.

The conference programme naturally reflects the themes, including sessions on Future Force Training, Innovation and the latest developments on military training system programmes. A wargaming session will also be included, chaired by Dr. Jill Sargeant Russell from the US Army War College, who has a background in wargaming with both the military and the Metropolitan Police.

Recognizing the importance of nurturing and supporting the S&T community, a one day workshop will be held prior to the conference where attendees can learn the basics of S&T from the UK Defence Academy and hear the latest developments from SISO, NATO’s M&S Centre of Excellence and the UK’s defence innovation incubator DASA. The exhibition itself will include demonstrations of some of the latest technologies and training systems from the simulation and gaming worlds.

The Venue

Perhaps reflecting the DSET organiser’s desire to take a novel approach to military S&T conferences, the event will be held as previous years in Bristol's Ashton Gate Stadium. On other days it can host up to 27,000 football fans but areas behind the stands are reconfigured to support the conference area and exhibition space. Lockett explained that the venue had “space for growth, easy to get to and not hugely expensive”. Indeed, as in previous years, for military and government attendees there is no charge.

DSET Intern

The DSET team also support the S&T community through their sponsored intern initiative. DSET’s first intern was half-way through her one year internship with the Royal School of Artillery. Butler reported that Col David Clarke, RSA had told her “Based upon the success we've had so far and the value we've had to our business, then we are looking to sustain and develop this type of opportunity. Which gives us highly trained people delivered quickly to the point of need.” Butler said “it shows that we're not just another conference. We're part of the community”. It is good news to see young women being encouraged to take on STEM-based roles and S&T ones in particular.

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With its range of speakers and exhibitors DSET 2020 promises to deliver on its themes of innovation, disruption and diversity and continue to be a thought provoking, educational and enjoyable event in the S&T calendar. The DSET programme and registration details plus a list of sponsors and exhibitors can be found through the DSET website. DSET is co-located with Omega’s Future Indirect Fires and Mortar Systems Conference 10/11 March.

MS&T is the Lead Media Partner for DSET and will publish a show report in issue 2/2020.