AFIMSC seeks ideas for 2021 Innovation Rodeo

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center kicks off its third annual Innovation Rodeo with a call-for-topics campaign beginning Sept. 1.

The campaign, open through Dec. 1, gives military and civilian members of mission support groups around the world a chance to win part of $1 million in funding and resources to pursue their ideas.

“We can’t wait to see what ideas I&MS (installation and mission support) Airmen have for us this year,” said Emilie Miller, AFIMSC Ventures innovation program analyst. “They keep impressing us with their passion and ingenuity, and we’re excited to continue working hard with them to change the Air Force.”

The AFIMSC Innovation Office has evolved substantially over the last 20 months, and is introducing AFIMSC Ventures, serving as “angel investors for ground-breaking” ideas to better support AFIMSC’s primary subordinate units and Airmen across the enterprise, Miller added.

This year’s theme is Base of the Future, a broad topic with endless mission support-centric possibilities. It’s an opportunity to share how installations can look and function to move the Air Force forward.

The competition calls for Airmen to submit their ideas through the online Ideascale platform.

Airmen with the top ideas will have an opportunity to learn from leading innovators, and pitch their ideas to a panel of Air Force leaders at the AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo competition on Feb. 5, 2021.

Over the past two years, AFIMSC received hundreds of amazing ideas and handed out millions of dollars to help Airmen get projects off the ground, Miller said.

Past winners include the following:

• Mobile apps to make life easier for Airmen and their families, including one to centralize and streamline the subletting of short-term slots at military child development centers: one for base announcements and community events, and one to share feedback about customer experiences

• An idea to replace the current manual mapping of underground cabling and wiring with the use of augmented reality

• A project to leverage Geospatial Information Systems and aerial imagery for facility roof inspections

• A proposal to use autonomous robotic lawn mowers to cut grass in and around airfields at night to reduce aircraft bird-strike hazards

Winning projects are now in various stages of development, including an idea from the inaugural event in 2019 – an app now called the Wing Feedback App – which is getting ready for a pilot test this fall.

Seeing it grow from an idea to a developed app undergoing testing has been exciting for Lt. Col. Karen Landale, a member of the pitch team who’s still heavily involved in development and testing.

“It feels incredible and it makes me believe that it really is a small group of committed people who can make a big difference for our Air Force. Anything is possible when you’re willing to commit time and energy to important projects,” she said.

Landale encourages Airmen to share their ideas and take advantage of opportunities like the AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo.

“Don’t wait,” she said. “When an opportunity like the Innovation Rodeo presents itself, sell your idea to the people who can help make it a reality.

“You’ll be surprised by the number of people who’ll want to join you when they see you have a good and important idea. The Air Force has no shortage of problems to fix and no shortage of talent to fix those problems. AFIMSC offers opportunities to provide the time, funding and attention needed to solve Air Force problems. I think it’s one of AFIMSC’s strongest value propositions.”

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