With strong competition from more than 20 innovative Airmen submissions turned to five semi-finalists, the Air Force Materiel Command named its 2023 Spark Tank finalists, Oct. 6, 2022.
The Test Aircraft Virtual Reality “Just in Time” Solution, submitted by Master Sgt. Jeremy Neilson, Air Force Test Center, and an idea for the Robotics Universal Remote, presented by the team of Brian Warren and Tech Sgt. Geoffrey Gilmer, also from the Air Force Test Center, were selected to represent the command at the next level of competition.
“We are here today because we want to make the Air Force better,” said Lt. Gen. Carl Schaefer, AFMC Deputy Commander, who headed the judging panel at the live event. “For us, it is about creating a culture of innovation in the Air Force, but especially in AFMC. Nothing happens in the rest of the Air Force without what we do.”
Five semi-finalists had the opportunity to present their creative ideas to a senior leader panel that included Schaefer and AFMC Executive Director, Lorna Estep, hoping to turn their ground-breaking ideas into a reality. The winners of this competition progress to the Air Force-level Spark Tank competition.
Neilson’s AFMC Test Aircraft Problem – Virtual Reality “Just in Time” Solution incorporates virtual reality programs into instructional plans to enable units to reach mandated “Just in Time” training baselines in a measurable and scalable way.
Warren and Gilmer’s Robotics Universal Remote aims to create a universal remote for robotic operations in austere environments to enable faster response times and easier use across platforms.
“The end goal is to save lives down range and at home stations,” said Gilmer. “I’m hoping that this will have the capability that they need to get the job done safely.”
When reflecting on their win, the team shared how grateful they are to be moving onto the next phase of the competition.
“We are very excited to be moving on the Air Force-level Spark Tank competition,” said Warren. “It means a great deal to us and all the explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) warfighters out there that the panel here decided that our idea was worthy of consideration at that level.”
Spark Tank brings forth the advanced knowledge of Airmen and Guardians in the form of a grass-roots campaign. It reflects leadership’s continued efforts to empower and provide them with a platform to pitch innovative solutions to operational problems.
The AFMC Commanders Accelerated Initiatives Team (CDX), which manages the AFMC portion of the competition, is the key support for these innovative Airmen who are revolutionizing processes, strengthening AFMC teams, delivering integrated capabilities and amplifying warfighting culture.
“I want to thank all of the amazing, innovative Airmen across the command who took the time to submit ideas,” said AFMC CDX Chief, Kimberly Norman. “Please continue to send us those ideas, we love to hear about your innovative solutions.”
The five AFMC semi-finalists who presented during the event were:
*Master Sgt. Jeremy Neilson, Air Force Test Center: AFMC Test Aircraft Problem Virtual Reality “Just in Time” Solution
* Russell Roberds, Air Force Lifecycle Management Center: Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Index Tool (FiT)
* Brian Warren and Tech Sgt. Geoffrey Gilmer, Air Force Test Center: Robotics Universal Remote
* Dan Sandrowicz, 88th Air Base Wing: GeoBase Mobile Editing
* 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Air Force Test Center: Warehouse of the Future
Schaefer highlighted that all five semi-finalists are winners and that some of these great ideas are “Just Do Its” that AFMC can support without elevating them to the Air Force-level.
“We are the foundation of deterrence for our country, both on the nuclear side and the conventional side. We take care of all Airmen,” said Schaefer. “So that is why what we are doing today is so important.”