Moody Airmen drive Innovation

  • Published
  • 23rd Wing PA

With the Air Force focusing on innovation and future forward ideas, Airmen at Moody Air Force Base continuously lead the way. From A-Staff and Lead Wing concepts to Airmen creating concepts at an individual level, Moody is an installation brimming with diverse ideas and teaming with sparks of innovation.

Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Matyas, 347th Operations Support Squadron flight chief, is one of those individuals.

Pitching his idea to implement compression filtered water bottles in the field made him one of five Airmen to win the ACC Momentum Fund, and the first-ever recipient from Moody.

Maytas’ idea started when he was brainstorming effective ways for his Airmen to have safe drinking water during a small exercise, which then snowballed into a much larger scale of change.

“We were traveling to a location that did not have any source of potable water, which is water that is safe for human consumption,” Maytas said. “We really take it for granted in the States, we can get potable water essentially anywhere, even our toilet water is potable which is crazy to think about. In some of the countries we deploy to that's not always the case, hence why we have to transport in our own water. When I began trying to find solutions to my own problem, my mind couldn't help but think about how there could potentially be a larger-scale issue.”

Maytas couldn’t help but look at things from a historical aspect, fueling his need to find a solution that could help more than just his own Airmen.

“We have water bottles that get shipped to us by different means,” Maytas said. “However, if we enter in a larger-scale conflict, historically a good way to cripple an enemy is by destroying their logistical capabilities - eliminating their supply chain i.e. potable water. Many different militaries have been decimated by bad drinking water - their supply gets cut off and they have to resort to consuming the local supply and becoming plagued with illnesses you can receive from pathogens in the water.”

Within Maytas’ mind was a wealth of ideas that could be implemented to potentially restructure the Air Force water-supply management; he just needed to hone in on one.

As the 347th OSS flight chief, Matyas is responsible for all Survival, Evasion, Resistance. and Escape training on base. For the past several years he’s been tasked with taking Airmen into the austere and sharing his wealth of knowledge. Due to his background he’s very familiar with pathogens and well versed in the different tools people can use in order to convert potentially harmful water into potable water … Among these is a tool that Maytas discerned as the ideal solution.

“Essentially it's a normal water bottle, just like most of us carry on a daily basis,” he said. “The difference is this one has a compression filter that's built into the bottom of the bottle and that compression filter is designed to remove pathogens. So on the day-to-day you can use it as a normal water bottle, and in a sticky predicament you can take this water bottle and procure water from a mud puddle or from a faucet of untreated water.”

Once he zeroed in on the solution, the creation kept gaining momentum. After a year of brainstorming, researching and planning, Maytas brought his idea to the Continuous Ideas, Innovation, and Improvement team to submit to the Spark Tank board.

“We started working with Matyas back in March and the Idea he pitched to us was really one of a kind.” said John Matthews, Flight Manpower office flight chief. “When he approached us he was unsure of the process so we did our best to support him and consult him and make sure he did his due diligence.”

The CI3 found Maytas’ idea remarkable due to the need it was addressing and the human element evident in his pitch.

“I was able to sit in the back of the panel and watch him give a passionate pitch,” said Brandon Richardson, CI3 program manager. “I immediately understood the need and understood how much good this could really do for our troops. He wasn’t just pitching an idea to save the Air Force some money – he drew from his personal experiences and thought about the broader impact it could have. However, with everything he had going for him he wasn’t chosen for the fund.”

Undeterred by not receiving the fund from Spark Tank, Maytas and the CI3 team immediately began searching for alternative funding avenues and improving his purchasing plan for the compression bottles, which led them to the ACC Momentum fund.

“We already knew the Idea Maytas had was noteworthy, so submitting it to ACC was a no brainer,” Matthews said. “We helped repackage the research to fit the new criteria and told him to shoot it off. ACC saw what he saw and what we believed in and low-and-behold he was granted $289,000.”

Maytas was granted the full purchase amount of $289,000 for 1,000 titanium compression bottles and 3,000 replacement filters. One filter can last up to 30 days of continuous use for future deployed Airmen.

Finding out the results of over a year's worth of hard work and dedication, Maytas was filled with an intense mix of emotions.

“I was enthusiastic, excited and … stressed,” Maytas said. “I knew the chaos was coming, when you're talking about that kind of money from the DoD you can expect there to be a lot of stipulations. However, I was immensely grateful and excited to see the end result to what started out as a brainstorm session for an exercise.”

Thanks to the support of the ACC momentum fund, one idea from an Airman has the potential to impact the lives of an entire installation.

“In the end, it's not the initiative that I was looking to win and It's not the recognition,” Maytas said. “It was our Airmen that I wanted to take care of. I wanted to make sure they had what they needed and this was a way to pursue that goal. I'm hoping that this increases our capability to be that force we're looking to be now and in the future.”