HomeNewsArticle Display

Innovation Rodeo moves ideas closer to reality

2019 Innovation Rodeo teams take a few minutes for a group photo at AFIMSC headquarters in San Antonio, Feb. 28, 2019. (U.S.  Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

2019 Innovation Rodeo teams take a few minutes for a group photo at Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center headquarters in San Antonio, Feb. 28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- Three innovative ideas to support worldwide warfighter success are one step closer to reality today thanks to the first Air Force Innovation Rodeo, $650,000 in total seed money and a partnership with AFWERX and tech accelerator companies.

During the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Rodeo, similar to the Air Force’s Spark Tank and national television’s Shark Tank, a panel of five senior Air Force leaders in the installation and mission support community watched eight presentations before selecting the three ideas they feel will increase the speed and agility of the Air Force while providing cost savings.

The first Innovation Rodeo was very competitive, said Maj. Gen. Brad Spacy, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander.

“The teams got here because they all had great ideas,” Spacy said. “What had some rising to the top was a combination of applicability, having thought through what it’s going to take to get to market and the ability to use funds available to cover that gap.”

He said the Air Force would still invest in pitches that fell outside those parameters, just not through the Innovation Rodeo program.

The winners are:

First place – “What’s Up” App for base event announcements submitted by Col. Houston Cantwell, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, and presented by Cantwell and Yann Wollman, a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet.

Spacy said the panel was so excited about the potential of the app that he is adding another $50,000 of seed money to bring the idea to fruition; giving the team a total of $250,000.

Wollman said winning the rodeo was surreal.

“I’m still so speechless. We are just following what our superintendent told us about innovation: go out there and break barriers. This is a wonderful opportunity and we’re so grateful to be able to partner with AFIMSC,” Wollman said. “We’re ready to get together at the Academy and start prototyping and testing it out there and refining the idea.”

Second place – Leverage existing Geospatial Information System AI learning for Facility Roof Inspections submitted by 2nd Lt. Alexander Bow of the 627th Civil Engineer Squadron, Joint Base-Lewis McChord, Washington; and Capt. Gregory Hege, Air Force Central Command, Al Udeid, Qatar. Hege is deployed, so Bow presented with 1st Lt. Tim Sobieski of the 627th Air Base Group, JB Lewis-McChord.

Third place – See Something, Star Something App to allow crowdsourced feedback on contractors working for the Air Force submitted by Roger Westermeyer, Air Force Installation Contracting Agency enterprise sourcing support director at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The pitch was presented by Lt. Col. Karen Landale and Maj. Tom Kellermann, 773rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, who are stationed at JB San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

The road to the Innovation Rodeo began just two months ago when AFIMSC partnered with AFWERX to create the center’s first major innovation event since standing up a full-time innovation office in November. AFWERX, the Air Force’s primary innovation entity, allowed AFIMSC to use IdeaScale, an ideation software platform, for its “Call for Innovation” campaign.

During the Jan. 1-31 event, Airmen were encouraged to submit ideas for crowdsourcing votes – up for good ideas or down for those having less merit.

“Anyone with a vested interest in the installation and mission support area were allowed to log in, submit ideas and vote,” said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC chief innovation officer. “And we received a great response.”

When the call ended, Airmen had submitted 122 ideas and the top eight ideas advanced to the Innovation Rodeo.

Through crowdsourcing and collaboration, the Innovation Rodeo approach is very different than previous ways of doing business, Vandeveer said.

“It’s different because we have a dedicated budget to fund those AFWERX challenges,” Vandeveer said. “We’re not just going to let them stagnate.”

AFIMSC wanted to break down barriers to new ideas and the Innovation Rodeo was born, he said.

The Air Force has a service-wide innovation campaign, Spark Tank, but most of the ideas pitched are geared toward aircraft and the maintenance activities connected to them with only a few ideas related to mission support areas, he added.

“We support installation and mission support Airmen as a headquarters so we wanted to do something targeted on those Airmen and decided to do our own Spark Tank and call it Innovation Rodeo,” Vandeveer said.

The three winning teams of “intrapreneurs” will now take their winnings to run through the AFWERX process. They won’t just pitch their ideas and walk away; they are dedicated to seeing their ideas through from prototype to implementation and institutionalization across the Air Force, Vandeveer said.

“Ultimately, if we don’t implement an idea, we’re not adding value to our organization and the Air Force,” he added.

This year’s rodeo competition may be over but that doesn’t mean idea collection stops. The time to submit new ideas isn’t just during big innovation events, Spacy said.

“It’s tomorrow and the next day and the day after that … this is our commitment to the Air Force: to find innovation at the base level and get it to market,” he said. “We don’t want Airmen to wait for the next big challenge; we want them to find us now and bring us that innovation … don’t wait for next year.”

“Innovation is where it’s at. The Air Force, by design, is an innovative organization. What we’ve done is create the process and the opportunities for all these young minds to get those innovations – those things they think about – to reality,” Spacy said.

The other five teams, whose ideas will continue to be explored for possible implementation, are:
• Installation Access Control of the Future with Artificial Intelligence Facial Recognition submitted by Lt. Col. Carlos Hernandez, Air Force Security Forces Center at JB San Antonio-Lackland, and Lt. Col. Jeff Fisher, 31st Contracting Squadron, Aviano AB, Italy. Hernandez and Lt. Col. Jesse Goens of the 31st Security Forces Squadron at Aviano AB provided the pitch.

• Virtual Visitor Control Center and Visitor Kiosk submitted and presented by 2nd Lt. D.J. Smith, 502nd Communications Squadron at JB San Antonio-Lackland; Steven Dews, 502nd SFS at JB San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Tech. Sgt. Brian Lawley, 802nd SFS at JB San Antonio-Lackland; and Senior Master Sgt. Alvin Arguello, AFSFC.

• Supply Inventory Management System App submitted by Master Sgt. Nicole Haun with the 87th Mission Support Group at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, which was presented by Haun and JoyLab’s Jade Baranski, the chief executive officer, and Jerry Ramey, the chief technology officer.

• Self-adjusting Wide Area Detection using Unmanned Ground and Aerial Vehicles, which was submitted and presented by John Shackell, AFSFC.

• Emergency Airfield Lighting System Auxiliary Motor Upgrade, submitted and presented by Senior Airman Jordan Pitts, 319th CES, Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.

The judging panel included Spacy; Lorna Estep, AFIMSC executive director; Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbauer, AFIMSC director of expeditionary support; Brig. Gen. Alice Trevino, commander of the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency; and Heidi Scheppers, deputy director of Air Force security forces.

With the success of the inaugural Innovation Rodeo, AFIMSC will make it an annual event.


RT @AirNatlGuard: For #HispanicHeritageMonth, we're celebrating the stories of Hispanic & Latino Airmen! @188thWG SSgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez…
#TotalForce Airmen participate in night operations during a base-wide, total force exercise @HAFB. Airmen & pilots… https://t.co/kJYNKwHY7n
RT @USAFReserve: California fires/smoke no match for UTA Airmen - https://t.co/pJysQ6snRh (Story by the @940Wing) #ReserveReady #ReserveRes
Whistleblowers are NOT insider threats. Learn the difference and how you can appropriately report questionable gove… https://t.co/AaTvBfHcTv
SrA Denise Arabie, 319th Operations Support Squadron radar approach controller @319thRW, describes the importance o… https://t.co/zkwMx6Qw3i
RT @173rdFW: "I may have lost everything, but thanks to the support we’ve found here, I’m going to be back on my feet inside of a few weeks…
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official sat down and discussed how the Air Force will continue exempting Airmen from PT t… https://t.co/bWVig9fSOW
SrA Mark Gonzalez describes how his job enables the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to support the Bomber Task Force depl… https://t.co/sceKCtM3Pz
RT @AETCommand: Our Airmen come from all walks of life — and we are stronger for it. Staff Sgt. Kalinin, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS…
“It's critical to have that diversity in the Air Force that we have today because it is truly through that diversit… https://t.co/RIDQDjdlCr
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
In March 2019, @AFSpecOpsCmd received its first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. Referred to as “the ultimate b… https://t.co/V9FoDThYRQ
As the Joint Force transitioned from a Continuous Bomber Presence posture in the Indo-Pacific theater to a Dynamic… https://t.co/u8JlA3GaeF
As of August 2020, The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, aka Hurricane Hunters, has flown 64 missions into 12 s… https://t.co/CFtHJ8HDXG
.@AFGlobalStrike tackled B-1B readiness issues head-on by readying the fleet with a roadmap to recovery over a 2-yr… https://t.co/dEfZemGKbb
As we celebrate 73 years of the U.S. Air Force, we remember the heroes we are proud to have served with. Today we… https://t.co/3pdHX3DvIn
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Like Us
Follow Us