“Going through this experience recommitted me to the Air Force’s mission.”
This is how 1st Lt. Ryan Scadlock describes his recent experience attending an AFWERX-funded fellowship called AF Ventures. AFWERX is the Air Force’s team of innovators that help facilitate connections throughout the industry. The AFWERX mission is to solve problems and further enhance effectiveness of service through innovation.
“As a technologist and an intelligence officer, I’m being immersed into a world of innovation,” said Scadlock, who maintains cybersecurity for a global manufacturing firm in his civilian life. “I hope to take some of that and direct it to support the warfighter.”
Scadlock, an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance officer with the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, of the 107th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard, was selected through a competitive application process to join the 2020 AF Ventures fellowship, organized by Shift, a labor marketplace for current and former members of the U.S. military to acquire new skills and embark on new job opportunities in the United States.
The six-week fellowship places U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense leaders into technology and business ecosystems across Silicon Valley. This program is designed to increase the quality of technology proficient Airmen while maintaining long-lasting relationships between the Air Force and the private sector. Normally held in residence in San Francisco, the 2020 fellowship was adapted to be held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a shame that much of the technology we use in the military is behind what our service members use in their personal lives, so I’m thrilled to be part of the campaign to change that,” Scadlock said. “I grew by taking the time to look at the big picture – at why CSAF Brown’s statement that we need to accelerate, change, or lose is so true.”
Scadlock explains the group who attended the fellowship ranged from cyber operations to Air Force Special Operations Command pilots. Though diverse, they were all committed to improving the Air Force’s technology and enabling the military to fight and win, Scadlock said.
“I was amazed by the knowledge and skill of the other fellows. The range and depth of experience was inspiring.” Scadlock said.
The AF Ventures fellowship is scheduled to continue in 2021 but has been rebranded as Defense Ventures to include joint service members. The program is open to active duty and Reserve components of the U.S. military, members of the National Guard and Department of Defense civilians.