As the Air Force continues to build an organizational culture that empowers intrepreneurs, it doesn’t hurt to celebrate them and give them a stage to share their projects too.
It’s been nearly a year since Master Sgt. Jonathan Maas was selected to present his prototype of a renewable-energy chemical agent detector during Spark Tank 2019, alongside five other ideas from Airmen across the force.
Now, as 2020 rolls around the corner, the Air Force has selected six more ideas to be shared directly with Air Force senior leaders at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium, Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida.
“Spark Tank is a chance to celebrate our Air Force risk-takers, idea makers and entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the status quo, and have determined their own fate by developing solutions that make it easier for us to bring our very best to the fight,” said Lauren Knausenberger, Spark Tank director.
The selection process looked at the need for specific capabilities as well as concerns of safety, policy, Air Force-wide implementation, technical feasibility and scalability.
Spark Tank also offers Airmen the opportunity to get their ideas in front of key enabling agencies that can share expertise and resources such as funding or personnel for the projects being presented and demonstrate pathways for intrepreneurs to make their initiatives successful.
Though only six ideas will be pitched on stage at next year’s Spark Tank, more than 200 Airmen took the plunge and submitted ideas during the campaign on the Air Force’s Ideation Platform, which spurred multiple mini-events at the major-command level that connected Airmen with local enabling resources such as public affairs, contracting and legal.
Key themes included improved task management, commercial best practices for healthcare, workforce development, automation, suicide prevention and detection, maintenance and airfield assessment innovation.
“When it comes to finding new and creative ways to improve our Air Force, often times, we don’t have to look any further than our own teammates,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “It’s incumbent upon us as leaders to encourage creativity in problem solving. We must create a culture where Airmen are often trying, sometimes failing, and never giving up. This is how truly innovative teams get ahead. We owe it to our team, and to our nation, to do everything we can to bring the best ideas forward with programs like Spark Tank.”
The selectees to present at Spark Tank 2020 are:
Digital Airmen – Robotic Process Automation
Tech. Sgt. Cherrod J. Overbey
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas – Air Force Personnel Center
Portable Magnetic Aircraft Covers
Tech. Sgt. Daniel R. Caban
JB Langley-Eustis, Virginia – Air Combat Command
K-Wedge C-17 Globemaster III Loading Aid
Tech. Sgt. Brett M. Kiser
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar – Air Mobility Command
Low Cost Threat Emitter Replication
1st Lt. Daniel A. Treece
Luke Air Force Base, Arizona – Air Education and Training Command
Weapons Loading Smart Checklist
Chief Master Sgt. Gabriel L. Flagg, Master Sgt. Gabrial A. Valenzuela and Tech. Sgt. Benjamin E. Angley
Spangdahlem AB, Germany – U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa
Battery Cell Extraction Tool
Master Sgt. Robert D. Tingle and Master Sgt. Roy E. Puchalski
JB Lewis-McChord, Washington – Air Force Reserve Command
The confirmed panel of “investors” for the 2020 event include Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright and Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive officer.
Are you itching to tackle one of your unit or career field’s pain points but don’t know where to start? Connect with your local Spark Cell or start your own to gain access to the larger AFWERX community and start solving problems at your unit.