By harnessing the innovation potential of AFWERX, the sky is the limit for rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., as a base of the future.
AFWERX is the Air Force’s team of innovators who encourage and facilitate connections across industry, academia and the military to create transformative opportunities and foster a culture of innovation.
“In working with AFWERX, my eyes have been opened to what’s within the realm of possibility,” said Brig. Gen. Patrice Melançon, Tyndall Program Management Office executive director. “They aren’t worried about boundaries, precedent or anything else that might limit their imagination, which allows them to really focus on new ideas that will breed better solutions for not just Tyndall, but the entire Department of Defense.”
Tyndall PMO members, along with leaders from across the Air Force and Department of Defense, came together at a virtual AFWERX Fusion 2020 event July 28-30 to explore innovative solutions for building a base of the future with industry experts.
Melançon was one of several speakers at the event, including Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson, John Henderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, and Heidi Scheppers, Air Force deputy director of security forces.
Fusion also hosted a virtual trade show, showcasing the top 370 proposals – out of a record-breaking 1,600 – for best technologies and solutions such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing related to designing a 21st century installation.
Solutions addressed six AFWERX topic areas:
• Base Security
• Installation Resilience
• Leveraging Technology for Operational Effectiveness
• Enabling Technologies for Reverse Engineering and Additive and Agile Manufacturing
• Culture of Innovation
• Empowering Airman and Family Well-Being.
PMO Integration Division Chief Lowell Usrey was working with AFWERX even before the challenges started to solicit these ideas and position Tyndall as a prototype Air Force base.
“The ideas and solutions found here reach far beyond Tyndall,” Usrey said. “Yes, the goal is to select the best solutions and implement these cutting-edge technologies and innovations at the base, but we have an unprecedented opportunity to use Tyndall as a template for Air Force bases that are secure, resilient and digitally integrated.”
On Aug. 7, AFWERX will announce the top 25 percent of solutions moving forward to the next phase.
The next step is prototype development with Air Force teams leading to program handoff for ongoing development, said Mark Rowland of AFWERX.
“It takes perseverance and people like Lowell and General Melançon to take these calculated risks and breed a culture of innovation within the Air Force,” Rowland said, “but it’s worth it to empower the military to innovate and develop better, more effective solutions for our Airmen.”
Continued partnership with AFWERX is crucial for PMO leadership.
“We need out-of-the-box thinkers to succeed in our mission of developing the base of the future,” Melançon said. “We can’t wait to begin collaborating with these incredible teams of innovators, and we look forward to exploring the top selections in August.”
With demolition and repairs underway, Tyndall continues planning and design efforts in preparation for the arrival of its first of 72 F-35 fighter aircraft in September 2023.