BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
“Innovation is the hallmark of the United States Air Force,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, during a 2017 Air Force Association conference. “From time to time it is important to refresh our science and technology strategy, to step back from the programs and problems of today and project 10 or 20 years into the future.”
In May 2018, the 2nd Bomb Wing hosted a Spark Tank event, developed to provide Airmen a platform to share their potentially ground-breaking ideas that they have developed in hopes of receiving funding for their concepts and supporting the same values Wilson explained.
However, some of those funded ideas were briefed to more than just Barksdale when a group of base leadership, alongside local community business leaders, gathered together Nov. 15, 2018.
“The purpose was to show the everyday innovation that our bomb wing Airmen come up with in their everyday jobs to do things more efficiently and be more effective,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Butler, 2nd BW lean six sigma director.
The event was hosted by the Bossier Innovates Foundation, of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, at the Shreveport, Louisiana Sci-port Discovery Center. It was held in support of the 2018 Innovation North Louisiana, which was a three-day event established to encourage innovation and collaboration in the community.
“The key is to network and develop working relationships so we can learn from each other,” Butler said. “Often the private sector does things more efficiently and we could learn from that, more or less take the best-of-the-best practices and implement them. All too often we are stuck in the ‘Barksdale way’ and we tend not to push the boundaries because we often haven't been exposed to anything outside of the Air Force.”
There were three spark tank ideas briefed at the event.
Tech Sgt. Aaron McCullum, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 96th support section NCO in charge, shared the idea of implementing a laser rust remover that has been able to cut down on project time that could save the Air Force an estimated $36,000 annually.
Tech. Sgt. Nate Hale, 2nd Maintenance Group engine management NCO in charge, briefed the idea of implementing the use of engine change trailers. The use of these trailers is projected to reduce the amount of time and personnel used for equipment check out and check in from five to six hours with a combined effort from 36 people down to two hours with nine people.
Tech. Sgt. Charles Matthew Coy, 2nd Maintenance Squadron resource advisor, briefed his idea of the implementation of a virtual welding tool that has added safety benefits and saves an estimated $72,000 annually.
According to Coy, it is a very rewarding sentiment to know leadership on base and in the community want to hear what the Airmen have to say.
“It feels great to know the ideas we can come up with can help other people outside the Air Force,” Coy said. “It also goes to show innovation happens anywhere, regardless of the uniform or what you wear every day.”
Events like these are developed to fortify the bond between the base and the local community by promoting innovative principles, beliefs and ideals that can only make both stronger, Butler said.
“I am really looking forward to see what else will come from our efforts,” Butler added. “And to see how the Shreveport, Bossier City and the base will benefit, and continue to help build an innovative culture.”