AFWERX accepting applications for spring 2024 fellowship

  • Published
  • By Matthew Clouse
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory is accepting applications for its upcoming spring Traditional Fellowship Program through Jan. 5.

“I would definitely recommend an AFWERX fellowship to anybody who wants a challenge and likes a fast-paced working environment,” said Chris Heckman, a current AFWERX fellow. “You get to learn about new technologies and accelerate them to the warfighter, which is very exciting.” 

AFWERX fellowships are designed to cultivate a better understanding of current industry trends, broaden innovation perspectives and expose Airmen and Guardians to programs with a DAF- level impact. The fellowships include a professional development curriculum, allowing selectees to refine their project management capabilities and expand their skill sets.   

Fellows can expect to support a range of projects, including major command outreach, accelerating and transitioning Airmen and Guardians’ ideas to the field and participating in a Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer contracting sprint.  

Traditional fellows will be assigned to one of AFWERX’s divisions for four months. Heckman, an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center HH-60 Pave Hawk program manager with five years of acquisition experience, is assigned to AFVentures because his background and skill set aligned best with that division. Its mission is to fund emerging technologies via government and private capital to deliver Air Force and Space Force capabilities and broaden access to disruptive innovation.

“It was definitely a unique experience for me and was good to learn a different side of acquisitions,” Heckman said. “The process in AFWERX is so much faster than what I’m used to and getting technologies to the field quickly will hopefully help us gain an advantage.”  

Heckman is part of the Strategic Funding Increase and Tactical Funding Increase team and is responsible for inputting contract data, creating data analysis dashboards and sending emails to contract-awarded small businesses to make sure they are meeting milestones and to offer support as needed.   

Heckman said his most memorable highlight was attending the AFWERX program management review at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in October and meeting his co-workers in person. The fellowship experience has been so much fun that he doesn’t want it to end. 

“Once you find something that you enjoy doing, you want to keep learning more and more about it and it has kept me engaged,” Heckman added.   
Fellowships are open to all ranks of the Air and Space Forces, Reserve, Guard and government civilians. Both full-time and part-time fellowship positions are available, and are primarily being offered virtually, making them accessible to applicants regardless of location.