AFWERX Spark Lab encourages innovation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Coates
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

AFWERX hosted Spark Lab Innovation, Design Thinking and Pitch Coaching course at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, July 18-20, 2023.

The three-day course taught Airmen how to explore “design thinking” and “innovation framework”, developing new mindsets for creative problem-solving and prototyping through seminars, group exercises and hands-on workshops.

“There are a lot of tools for innovation in the world, and this course is one of them,” said Master Sgt. Kareem Samuel, 23rd Maintenance Group innovation cell chief. “AFWERX has the right data and training to push out to innovation teams and help streamline the process for Airmen. It’s huge – it’s a game changer.”

AFWERX, a Technology Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the innovation arm of the Department Air Force, accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming innovative technology developers with Airman and Guardian talent.

While the course is new to Moody, it provides resources to over 100 Spark Cells across the Air Force.

“AFWERX has three divisions that all work together to bring people from across the DoD into our innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. Sherry Gevedon, AFWERX Spark innovation leader. “They can then experience what it’s like to have an innovator’s mindset through the tools and techniques we teach them in courses like the one we did here at Moody.”

Aligning projects and ideas encompassing the operational imperatives: Space Order of Battle; Operational Focused ABMS; Moving Target Engagement; Tactical Air Dominance; Resilient Basing; Global Strike; and Readiness to Deploy and Fight, the course is aimed at meeting each installation commander’s innovation priorities through design thinking and prototyping.

“The event was a major success,” Samuel said. “Airmen from all walks of life showed up to learn, and their prototypes and presentations showed us all that Tigers lead.”

During the course, the participants dispersed into seven groups and after three days of deliberating new inventions, pitched their designs to five judges.

The winning group, Team 5, pitched a website designed for Airmen, agencies and families to access real-time status updates for Contingency, Exercise and Deployment orders, medical readiness and deployment training - focused on operational imperative number seven – Readiness to Deploy and Fight.

“The ideas we’re generally interested in are centered around technology,” Gevedon said. “We like to focus on accelerating technology for the warfighter, and the passion and depth of ideas that we saw this week were amazing. They know they’re working towards a great cause and it was inspiring to be a part of it.”