Air Force seeks Airmen’s innovative ideas

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Most innovative ideas come from the belief that a certain process or an apparatus’ function can be improved upon.

Some may think working in the military means strictly abiding by the uniform processes they were taught regardless of whether they are at their most efficient or not, but such is not the case.

Wing of Choice members, do you have an innovative idea?

The Air Force’s AFWERX innovation hub is taking submissions for its 4th annual Spark Tank until Oct. 16.

Spark Tank is an event that takes place at the Air Force Association’s Warfare Symposium where Airmen, Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve, pitch ideas to Air Force leadership and industry experts.

The event was brought about with the intent to encourage intrapreneurship, retain innovators, and speed adoption of emerging technologies.

To submit an idea, Airmen must provide a Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) link to an original, public affairs office-approved video, no more than 3 minutes long, summarizing and pitching the idea. Submissions should be directed to the “Spark Tank” section of the Airmen Powered by Innovation homepage which can be found on the Air Force portal.

Criteria to be selected as a finalist includes safety concerns, feasibility and scalability, branch-wide implementation, and specific capabilities.

Past winners include last year’s tie between 1st Lt. Daniel A. Treece from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona’s Low Cost Threat Emitter and a group from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany’s Weapons Loading Smart Checklist.

From cost-effectiveness to efficiency to safety, processes to equipment, impactful innovation is the goal.

In addition to the finalists being recognized, the wing and major command with the most submissions will also receive recognition.

While Spark Tank is a great opportunity to put an idea out there and possibly see it come to fruition due to the financial and logistical support granted to finalists, there are other ways in which the Air Force supports forward thinking year-round.

One resource is IdeaScale. The IdeaScale website serves as a place for Airmen to present their ideas, including specific ones that the Air Force is currently trying to tackle. Right now, AFWERX and Air Force Operational Energy are teaming up to solicit ideas on aviation fuel optimization for better combat capabilities, range, and more efficient operations.

In addition to submitting ideas, IdeaScale provides a network of innovators for innovators from both the military and civilian sectors.

“IdeaScale allows anybody in the entire Air Force to submit ideas for innovation to save money or anything else, and it cuts out all the hierarchy and goes straight to the decision makers,” said Chief Master Sgt. Monte Snyder, Wing Performance Process Manager for the 403rd Wing here. “It then comes to someone like me to help the Airman develop their idea.

Snyder says IdeaScale is simple to use and was developed as a way to streamline ideas that could, in the past, take years to come to fruition. 

Other resources and opportunities can be found on the API page in the Air Force portal including reading materials and leadership class opportunities.