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SOS students pitch ideas to solve Air Force issues using artificial intelligence

Col. Wayne Straw, Squadron Officer School commadant, gives his feedback to a group of SOS students who are participating in the school's Think Tank elective, May 31, 2019, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The Think Tank elective challenges Air Force captains to come up with solutions to big Air Force issues.

Col. Wayne Straw, Squadron Officer School commandant, gives his feedback to a group of SOS students who are participating in the school's Think Tank elective, May 31, 2019, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The Think Tank elective challenges Air Force captains to come up with solutions to big Air Force issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) --

Air University’s Squadron Officer School students pitched their initial ideas on how to better certain processes within the Air Force to Col. Wayne Straw, the school’s commandant, and a panel of subject matter experts, May 31, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

The ideas pitched were a part of the SOS elective Think Tank, which challenges SOS students to create solutions for the Air Force’s major issues and then present them to senior leaders.

“Think Tank is an opportunity for a select group of students to tackle a major issue and present creative solutions to senior leaders,” said Lt. Col. Jason Trew, 30th Student Squadron commander. “It is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging and students are expected to work well beyond the SOS curriculum.”

The Air Force captains were asked to curate problems for the newly created United States Air Force – MIT Artificial Intelligence accelerator program, which was developed by the institution to better study specific areas of research, such as advanced algorithms and machine learning.

“The rewards for both the students and the Air Force can be enormous,” Trew said. “Team members receive intensive coaching on design principles adapted from the best practices in industry, academia and militaries from across the world. What they learn and practice are directly applicable to the strategic thinking skills that are highly valuable to leaders at all levels. In the past, this approach has generated innovative ideas at all levels of the Air Force.”

The three groups of students had ten minutes to present their ideas on how AI can be used to solve big Air Force issues.

The first group asked themselves, if a third of the Air Force budget is spent on people, then how do we optimize the warfighter? Their idea was to utilize AI in a way that could improve the way Airmen are trained.

The second group had a similar approach as the first, but from a maintenance specific perspective. Their idea was to find a way to capture the knowledge and lessons learned from seasoned maintainers and making it easily available for new Airmen.

The third and last group took a different approach to the issue. Instead of figuring out a way that AI could be used to solve an issue, they asked how the Air Force can continue to generate ideas and solutions outside of the SOS Think Tank.

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