AFWERX In the News
28 Nov 2023
AFWERX and NASA collaborate to develop digital Advanced Air Mobility operations center
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX is partnering with NASA to develop a digital operations center for future Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) efforts through the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP) awardee, ResilienX.
25 Apr 2023
Air Force pilots reach new program milestones in electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – Four Air Force pilots remotely flew a Joby electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft at the company’s Marina, California, manufacturing facility April 20. They were the first Air Force personnel to assume remote pilot-in-command responsibilities and transition flight for the eVTOL, preparing the Air Force for delivery of aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base, California.
14 Nov 2023
Electric Alia begins flight testing at Eglin
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The BETA Technologies Alia aircraft lifted off for its first official test flight here Nov. 7, 2023.
8 Nov 2023
Ohio State University students learn about AFWERX and Advanced Air Mobility, fly simulators
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AFRL) – Aerospace engineering students from Ohio State University were invited to Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, Ohio, to learn about AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force, and Advanced Air Mobility Nov. 7, 2023.
3 Nov 2023
AI, autonomy proving ground hosts first 3rd-party developer
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The Autonomy, Data, and AI Experimentation Proving Ground hosted its first autonomy developer for a week of testing here Oct. 23-27.
30 Oct 2023
AFWERX builds connections, spurs innovations at Eglin
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - AFWERX had a very busy week here Oct. 23 - 27 with engagements, a few firsts, and a new aircraft arrival among the highlights. The week began with more than 200 AFWERX employees descending on the Emerald Coast for their fall program management review. The goal of the event was to bring this full-remote Air Force organization together for in-person engagements and provide employees an opportunity to connect face-to-face.
26 Oct 2023
BETA’s ALIA electric aircraft arrives at Eglin Air Force Base for testing
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFRL) – AFWERX Airmen and several local media outlets gathered at Duke Field on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to witness one of the quietest Air Force aircraft flyovers ever. BETA Technologies, an electric aerospace company and AFWERX Prime division partner, made several low passes in its ALIA electric aircraft as the audience celebrated its delivery to the Air Force Oct. 26, 2023.
25 Oct 2023
AFWERX Prime, FAA agree to share flight-test information
DUKE FIELD, Fla. (AFRL) – AFWERX Prime and the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, announced they have agreed to share flight-test data to accelerate the safe integration of Advanced Aircraft Mobility, or AAM, platforms into the National Airspace System, or NAS, Oct. 25, 2023.
19 Oct 2023
Joint Base Andrews welcomes arrival of all-electric aircraft after historic flight
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – AFWERX, in collaboration with one of its primary division partners, BETA Technologies, an electric aerospace company, landed an ALIA conventional take-off and landing, all-electric aircraft at Andrews during a multi-stop flight from Vermont to Florida, Oct. 18.
13 Oct 2023
AFWERX participates in the Department of Transportation’s Interagency Working Group to foster innovation and collaboration
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AFRL) — The AFWERX Agility Prime and Airspace Innovation and Prime Partnerships team participated in the Department of Transportation’s Advanced Air Mobility Interagency Working Group (AAMIWG) at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, New York, Oct. 11-13.
27 Sep 2023
Former AFWERX fellow named one of Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFRL) – To be named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, one’s accomplishments must stand out amongst the other 260,000 enlisted personnel. The criteria include superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements.
25 Sep 2023
Emerging Technologies Integrated Test Force Takes Delivery of First eVTOL Aircraft
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Joby Aviation, Inc. officially delivered its first experimental electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to the Air Force during a ceremony held at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Sept. 25. The ceremony showcased the unique multi-party collaboration between private industry, AFWERX, the 412th Test Wing and NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.
19 Sep 2023
Duke Field breaks ground on first electric aircraft charging station
DUKE FIELD, Florida (AFRL) – AFWERX and one of its Prime division partners, BETA Technologies, an electric aerospace company, broke ground on the first electric aircraft charging station on a military installation at Duke Field, Florida, Sept. 19, 2023.
13 Sep 2023
AFWERX ‘Spark Street’ takes over 2023 Air, Space and Cyber Conference
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFRL) – AFWERX showcased the innovation from Spark Cells around the world at the Air, Space and Cyber Conference, in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 11-13. The aisle of four booth spaces at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center was called "Spark Street" where hundreds of attendees learned about ideas and projects from Airmen and Guardians that have improved and strengthened the Department of the Air Force.
11 Sep 2023
Partnership agreement furthers safety of Advanced Aircraft Mobility in low-altitude conditions
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX Prime and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Architecture and Integration Weather office have signed a memorandum of agreement allowing them to collaborate on efforts to reduce the impact of low-altitude weather on Advanced Air Mobility platforms.
1 Sep 2023
AFWERX and NASA strengthen interagency partnership
NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER, Calif. – After a series of capability site visits, AFWERX and NASA have strengthened their partnership to better reach advanced air mobility goals.
28 Aug 2023
AFWERX hosts first in-person Collider event since COVID-19 pandemic
AUSTIN, Texas (AFRL) – More than 20 industry partners attended the first in-person AFWERX Collider event in over three years at Fed Supernova in Austin, Texas. Colliders went virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic but the return of face-to-face interaction gave Air Force leaders the opportunity to share the same room with small businesses and entrepreneurs to spark interaction and unleash American ingenuity to solve warfighter problems.
23 Aug 2023
AFWERX kicks off Fed Supernova with 22 minutes of wellness
Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the Department of the Air Force, kicks off Fed Supernova with 22 minutes of wellness at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas, Aug. 23, 2023. Leigh encourages everyone to take 22 minutes each day to focus on something that brings joy in their life. AFWERX invited Maribel Gabriel Valls, a meditation teacher, to lead a morning mindfulness session to create a lasting habit of self-care and improve long-term well-being. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew Clouse)
22 Aug 2023
AFWERX Spark hosts Crossflow events
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX Spark held five Crossflow events at strategically situated locations throughout the world in 2023, all focused on the development, collaboration and growth of Spark Cells in each region.
17 Aug 2023
Spark Tank 2024 call for idea submissions
ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- The seventh annual Spark Tank event has launched with a call for innovative Airmen and Guardian idea submissions ahead of the Sept. 4 deadline. Spark Tank is the flagship competition in which innovators from across the Department of the Air Force pitch their ideas to a panel of top leadership and industry experts in pursuit of sponsorship to realize their idea. This years’ Spark Tank competition encourages all Airmen and Guardians to participate in the program and share their best ideas for improving the department’s capabilities. “The Spark Tank competition has produced some game-changing innovations,” said Brou Gautier, Spark Tank director. “Anyone could have the next great idea, so it’s vital that every Airman and Guardian, in each occupational specialty, decide to compete by letting us know what their idea would make possible.” For Spark Tank 2024, the DAF’s Performance Management and Innovation office in the Pentagon, known as SAF/MG, and AFWERX Spark join forces again to co-produce this widely known innovation campaign. New for this year, SAF/MG and AFWERX are introducing a new element: an assigned consultant who will help ideators strengthen their submissions through five refinement steps. By connecting them to commercial contacts, providing training, and virtual collaboration, SAF/MG and AFWERX hope to improve Airmen and Guardians chances of turning their ideas into operational reality and result in a more effective Force. “Spark Tank provides a public-facing platform to showcase innovative ideas across the DAF,” said Aaron Beebe, AFWERX Spark Tank project manager. “These are real problems experienced daily by those trying to do their jobs and accomplish the mission. We ask them to help us solve them through a more streamlined approach. That acknowledgment and empowerment can create a sense of pride and ownership that is difficult to replicate through the typical process.” The campaign page lists scoring criteria, timelines, and all the information needed to compete. To submit ideas for the competition, use the Guardians and Airmen Innovation Network platform here. To access GAIN, users will need to establish a second Front Game Warden account. If they don’t already have one, login here. The submission deadline for Spark Tank 2024 is Sept. 4.
18 Aug 2023
New platform IGNITEs defense innovation
AFWERX has launched IGNITE, a platform where defense users can search for and easily interact with thousands of small businesses that have secured previous Department of the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer awards.
17 Aug 2023
AFWERX reaches out to academia for new technologies
DAYTON, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX, the innovation arm for the Department of the Air Force, met with entrepreneurs, educators and researchers at a recent Academia Days outreach event in Dayton, Ohio, to hear about their dual-use and defense-specific technologies. “Some of America’s most disruptive and game-changing military technologies grew out of research from universities and nonprofit institutions,” said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the DAF. Nearly 100 representatives from 29 of the nation’s universities as well as virtual attendees gathered to hear about innovation funding through AFWERX, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Space Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation. “It’s not just about aircraft,” Leigh said. “Just about everything you can think of, there’s an Airman somewhere who can use it to do their job better.” The AFWERX mission is to accelerate agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming leaders in innovative technology with Airman and Guardian talent. Leigh said AFWERX can help bring together entrepreneurs, who have partnered with academic and nonprofit institutions, and funding through the Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, program. The STTR program requires that a small business join forces with a university, a federally funded research center or a qualified nonprofit institution. The academic or nonprofit research institution performs 30% of the work, while a small business must perform at least 40%. Leigh pointed to low observable, or ‘stealth,’ technology as an example of a disruptive innovation made possible by research institutions. During the 1950s, P. Ya. Ufimtsev, a Soviet Russian physicist and mathematician, found ways to calculate the diffraction of light waves when they came into contact with certain shapes. Soviet officials, believing Ufimtsev’s work offered no military or economic value, allowed him to publish his findings as, “Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction.” While the publication received scant attention in Russia, Denys Overholser, an American stealth engineer with Lockheed’s Skunk Works, realized Ufimetsev’s methods could help conduct finite analysis of radar reflection, a critical piece to developing the F-117 Nighthawk and stealth technology as a whole. Today, the DAF Small Business Innovation Research and STTR focus areas include artificial intelligence, machine learning, small unmanned aerial systems, extended reality, autonomous technology, robotic-process automation, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, mental health, next-generation gaming, and other technologies. AFWERX wants to grow its database of subject matter experts for future projects. Projects could include working closely with Spark Cells, being evaluators for new contract awards and expertise for future research and development projects. Additionally, entrepreneurs working with AFWERX can also attend events where they will have a chance to meet with officials from the Air Force’s major commands, or MAJCOMs, and program executive offices, or PEOs. MAJCOMs and PEOs can sponsor their technology during the development and prototyping phases before possibly becoming government customers. Information about the AFWERX SBIR/ STTR programs can be found here. About AFRL The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com. About AFWERX The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.
15 Aug 2023
AFWERX to attend AFA and host Spark Street
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX representatives will attend the Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, hosted by the Air and Space Forces Association, or AFA, in National Harbor, Maryland, from Sept. 11-13. This year’s conference, held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, is themed “Defeating Multipolar Threats: A Strategic Imperative for Airmen and Guardians.” The event will begin with a keynote address by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, followed by 40 sessions and panels from Air and Space Force senior leaders, as well as a technology exhibit hall with more than 190 booths. AFWERX and SpaceWERX will host a booth manned by division representatives, AFVentures, Spark, and Prime, throughout the conference. Visitors can speak with subject matter experts and get more information on AFWERX’s mission. “Our team is looking forward to networking and connecting with Department of the Air Force partners and industry leaders at this year’s conference,” said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the DAF. “Our mission at AFWERX – to harness technology that strategically empowers the warfighter – gets after Secretary Kendall’s operational imperatives in a unique way, and collaborative opportunities such as AFA allow us to share our methods and successes with teammates across the DAF and connect with innovative leaders throughout industry.” In addition, AFWERX Spark, which connects Airmen and Guardian operators to commercial innovators and acquisition processes, will display Airmen and Guardian innovation and talent at Spark Street, a custom set of four booth spaces that will showcase nearly 20 Spark Cells worldwide. Spark Cells are a decentralized network of operational innovation installations at Air Force bases worldwide that encourage and assist Airmen and Guardians in executing locally generated ideas and projects that improve and strengthen the force. “Cells will occupy Spark Street on a rotation, so be sure to visit regularly throughout AFA,” said Craig Buying, fellowship lead for AFWERX Spark. “The area will also feature prominent DAF innovation organizations and will be a place at AFA where Airmen and Guardians can collaborate, share best practices and develop the next great idea for the DOD.” To learn more or register for AFA, click here. Registration is free for government employees and military members and spouses. About AFRL The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com. About AFWERX The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.
11 Aug 2023
AFVentures launches 2024 STRATFI/TACFI Notice of Opportunity
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) -- AFVentures, the commercial investment arm of AFWERX and the Department of the Air Force, or DAF, on Aug. 10, 2023, issued a notice of opportunity for its Strategic Funding Increase and Tactical Funding Increase, or STRATFI/TACFI, programs. The notice marks the availability of the application documents and guidance for the STRATFI/TACFI’s 2024 program year. For the first time, STRATFI and TACFI submission windows will be offset. For STRATFI, the deadline for submitting capability package submissions is noon on Sept. 27, 2023, with the TACFI submission window to follow. STRATFI/TACFI is open to Phase II companies with the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer, or SBIR/STTR, programs. The small business must either have a current Phase II contract or have completed one within two years of submitting a capability package. “One of the major changes this cycle is in the submission process,” said Carl Parker, AFWERX senior operations research analyst for the STRATFI/TACFI portfolio. “Unlike previous years, this time the government champion will submit all documentation as opposed to the Small Business Concern, or SBC.” Completing and submitting a successful capability package will still require teamwork between the government champion and the SBC. “We’re excited about the level of engagement we’re already seeing from our government and industry partners, and we’ll be mirroring all submission documents and guidance on our website and on the Microsoft Teams platform to ensure full access,” said Parker. STRATFI/TACFI are designed to bridge the “Valley of Death” between SBIR/STTR Phase II efforts and Phase III scaling efforts, facilitating delivery of strategic capabilities for the DAF. The program initiates relationships between the U.S. Air Force and Space Force end-users and acquisition professionals, private-sector innovators, and investors. The two programs differ based on award sizes, matching fund requirements and performance periods. STRATFI contracts range from $3 million to $15 million over 48 months, while TACFI awards range between $375,000 and $1.9 million over 24 months. The 2022 notice of opportunity drew 147 capability packages, of which officials deemed 125 eligible. Of those eligible, 22 STRATFI and 67 TACFI contracts were awarded during that program year. STRATFI and TACFI require various levels of matching funding and avenues for defense and/or industry matching, depending on the program sought. Air Force acquisition officials first introduced AFVentures and the STRATFI program in March 2020 during a virtual Pitch Bowl and Spark Collider. The TACFI program was introduced the following year. There will only be a small window of time to submit a proposal. Prepare now and learn more about the program here: https://afwerx.com/stratfi-tacfi/ About AFRL The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com. About AFWERX The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.
18 Jul 2023
Apply To Our 2023 Traditional Fall Fellowship Program!
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – 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 Traditional fall fellowship program July 17 to Aug. 18. 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 set. "The fellowship program has truly been a transformative experience for me,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Newborg, AFWERX fellows lead. “It has expanded my perspective on innovation and provided me with valuable insights into how we can enhance and simplify processes within our squadron. Through the program, I have been empowered to explore the integration of artificial intelligence-based methods, leading to significant time savings and increased operational efficiency. The ability to leverage [artificial intelligence] has not only streamlined our workflows but also allowed us to redirect our valuable human resources to more critical tasks. The fellowship has truly helped me make a tangible difference in our mission and our team's success."
17 Jul 2023
SpaceWERX Launches Tactically Responsive Space Challenge Definition Workshop
LAS VEGAS – In an effort to generate new ideas and cutting-edge orbital defense technologies, SpaceWERX hosted a Tactically Responsive Space, or TacRS, Challenge Definition Workshop at the AFWERX Innovation Hub in Las Vegas, Nevada. These workshops provide military end-users with an opportunity to interface with industry experts. “To become aware of the things that need to be accomplished by 2026 and determine who is responsible for the different parts is the end goal,” said 2nd Lt. Brady Pudwill, 2nd Space Launch Squadron. “It enables us to attack it intentionally in collaboration with industry.” This workshop marks the beginning of a multi-year Challenge to gain new technologies that will enable the U.S. Space Force to more rapidly and flexibly respond to emerging on-orbit threats by 2026. SpaceWERX and the Space Force hope that successful solutions could reduce response times from months or weeks to days or hours, significantly improving orbital defense capabilities.
12 Jul 2023
Project Arc Seeks Innovators to Solve Department of the Air Force Challenges
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – Project Arc, a grassroots initiative started in 2020 to spur innovation within the Department of the Air Force, is accepting applications for its next six-month temporary duty, or TDY, assignment July 17 to Aug. 4. The program is looking for Airmen and Guardians from all occupations who are obsessed with tech, have a curiosity to tinker and want to solve problems. “We want people that are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math, and joined the military to use those skills to solve warfighter problems,” said Maj. Jason Goins, founder of Project Arc. The TDY is funded by Project Arc and embeds military members and government civilians into operational wings around the world. They will work with pilots, maintainers, logisticians and other technical DAF jobs to apply state-of-the-art technology, experimentation, prototyping and rapid adaptation to help outpace technology used by U.S. adversaries.
29 Jun 2023
AFWERX Integrates Uncrewed Traffic Management to Enhance Safety and Security
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate have installed an Uncrewed Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Equipping Eglin’s Duke Field with the Collaborative Low-Altitude UAS Integration Effort (CLUE) is the next step in AFWERX verifying that current air traffic management systems can ensure complete safety as drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft take flight. “Airspace management will play a key role for the future of air mobility and technologies like drones, eVTOLs, etc.,” said Darshan Divakaran, AFWERX’s head of airspace innovation and Prime partnerships. “To promote technological advancements, we cannot compromise on safety. AFWERX Prime is focusing on collaborating with other agencies to ensure we can accelerate the future of air mobility in a safe and secure manner.”
19 May 2023
AFWERX Announces New Mantra, Mission, Vision Statements
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX leadership announced a new mantra, mission and vision statement to its Airmen and Guardians in a virtual all-call May 18, 2023. “We changed some of the wording to talk about teaming leaders and innovation technology,” said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the Department of the Air Force, or DAF. “There are really two areas that we focus on when we think about innovation, our small businesses and the talent that's out there to include our Airmen and Guardians. AFWERX pairs them together to accelerate capabilities for the warfighter faster than our traditional acquisition system.” Created by leadership, the renewed mission statement – AFWERX accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming leaders in innovative technology with Airman and Guardian talent – encompasses what the directorate is responsible for and how each Airman and Guardian helps accomplish it daily.
9 May 2023
AFWERX Begins the ’22 For You Challenge’ for Team Wellness
AUSTIN, Texas - AFWERX is encouraging physical and mental health with the “22 For You Challenge.” Originally founded by Jeremy “Chaz” Michael, AFWERX mission design team lead and Army special operations veteran, the “22 For You Challenge” began as a grassroots campaign in 2020 called the “Ruck for 22 Challenge.” It consisted of walking at least a mile with a rucksack for 22 days, in honor of the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day. The walk was intended to bring awareness to the mental health struggles of those with PTSD. However, in 2022 after the isolation of COVID-19, veterans involved with the challenge felt a more impactful change was necessary to help those still struggling with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Michael created a new challenge, focused on the creation of positive habits that would hopefully continue long past the end of the challenge itself – the “22 For You Challenge.” “Let’s do something that we can continue for more than a month, that's a novelty mental health campaign,” said Michael. “And let’s do something that benefits your mental health, physical health and quality of life. Smiling really does fill your tank back up. Sometimes we forget to do that.”
12 Apr 2023
AFWERX To Discuss Emerging Aircraft Technologies at AUVSI Xponential 2023 Convention
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) — AFWERX will highlight emerging aircraft technologies during the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International XPONENTIAL 2023 convention May8-11, 2023, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. This year’s theme is “Building the Blueprint for Autonomy,” and attendees can expect to see AFWERX displays and learn about several innovative technology programs.“
20 Mar 2023
SJAFB Tests New In-Flight Bladder Relief System
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – When you think aircrew, your first thought may not be about in-flight bladder relief, but it can pose major health and safety issues for pilots. In an effort to find an effective in-flight bladder relief solution for female aircrew, the Air Force is testing a new system called Airus by Airion Health. "In the summer of 2020, the Air Force put out a challenge to design bladder relief systems for female pilots," said Cam Chidiac, Airion Health managing member. "We were one of 11 companies to win. Then in 2022, we were one of two companies to win prototyping contracts.” The 46th Test Squadron and 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, have been tasked with developmental test support of the in-flight bladder relief system. "This test requires units to perform ground integration events with the system and the aircraft and will provide human systems integration feedback," said Justin Spurling, 46th TS aircrew flight equipment test engineer.
17 Mar 2023
US Air Force Academy Spark Cell – The Future of Air Force Innovation
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – A team of cadets in the US Air Force Academy have been finding success as an AFWERX Spark Cell. AFWERX Spark Cells are an innovation network that encourages members of the Air Force and Space Force to explore new technologies and ideas, and connects them with industry and educational leaders in order to solve real world problems. The Spark Cell at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) was created in 2019, and has expanded in the three years since. Currently led by Cadet First Class Manmeet K. Pelia, the director of the 2022-23 team, the USAFA Cell primarily consists of one director, nine executive directors, and twenty four “innovation actualizers.” In those few short years, the cadets have been a force for real progress. One of their number, Cadet First Class Grant Schlichting, was a finalist in the Spark Tank competition hosted by AFWERX. His invention received funding and is currently being developed by the Air Force. In collaboration with STRIKEWERX and CyberWorx during their three-day design sprint, the Cell helped to design a shell to protect the ACES II ejection seat survival kit being modified to fit the B-52. The prototype design is currently receiving further testing and evaluation.
8 Mar 2023
SPARK TANK 2023 FINALISTS TAKE CENTER STAGE AT AFA WARFARE SYMPOSIUM
Aurora, Colo. (AFNS) -- Finalists in the Department of the Air Force’s capstone innovation campaign, “Spark Tank,” presented their ideas to a panel of judges in an event on the last day of the Air and Space Forces Association 2023 Warfare Symposium, March 8. More than 230 ideas were submitted to Air Force Research Laboratory’s Basic Research Innovation and Collaboration Center in Arlington, Virginia. All of the ideas were evaluated, and the top 15 were presented to be voted upon by Department of the Air Force members. The top six were selected as finalists for presentation at AFA. “There is a feeling of empowerment that Airmen and Guardians sense when they witness support from their leadership,” said Maj. Aaron Beebe, Air Force Spark Cell program manager and Spark Tank production manager. “However, this event is more than that—they are seeing the support of their peers. Sometimes that validation can speak louder, knowing that you are not alone in the fight.”
27 Feb 2023
AFWERX REFINERY PROGRAM ACCELERATES AIRMAN AND GUARDIAN INITIATIVES
This is part three of a three-part series. WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) -- The AFWERX Refinery program, an initiative of the AFWERX Spark division, is rapidly advancing Airman and Guardian projects that directly aid warfighters by hosting a four-to-six-week Accelerator program that targets grassroots innovation efforts within the Department of the Air Force, or DAF. Several Airmen said their projects benefited greatly from the program including Custom Facemasks for Fighter Pilots and Beyond, Laser Foreign Object Detection and Project ArcWater. “All these Airmen are working on big projects that either save time, save money, increase quality of life or increase our capabilities – and a lot of times, it’s all four,” said Maj. Garrett Custons, branch chief of the AFWERX Spark division and founder of the Refinery. The Refinery moves Airman and Guardian grassroots efforts from one stage of development to the next by connecting them with a curated selection of subject matter experts and stakeholders relevant to problem areas and prototypes. This might mean meeting with engineering and science experts from the research labs, attorneys, acquisition professionals, program offices, headquarters staff offices, mentors or senior decision makers. In this way, the Refinery makes available the resources, training and practices of both government prototyping, fielding and sustaining expertise and private industry accelerators.
24 Feb 2023
AFWERX to Attend South by Southwest Conference
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) -- Representatives from all four core divisions of AFWERX -- Prime, Spark, AFVentures, and SpaceWERX -- will be at the South by Southwest, or SXSW, conference March 10-19, 2023 in Austin, Texas. The Capital Factory, an entrepreneurial firm aimed at connecting innovative technologists and startups to a nationwide network of resources, will host this event in its downtown networking space at the AFWERX Austin Hub located in the Omni Hotel. The SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for the global community of digital creatives to encounter cutting-edge ideas, discover new interests, and network with other professionals who share a similar appetite for forward-focused experiences. "AFWERX is looking forward to connecting with DOD and industry partners to collaborate on our shared mission to innovate a stronger force," said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director. "AFWERX 3.0's mission to support senior leadership's top priorities could not occur without the invaluable partnerships we build in forums such as South by Southwest." Dr. Timothy Grayson, special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, will hold a public forum and question-and-answer session March 10, 2023, on the Operational Imperatives, inviting technology leaders from industry to engage directly with Department of the Air Force, or DAF, priorities. This forum advances Kendall’s commitment to partnering with industry to solve technical challenges presented by operational imperatives, which identify critical warfighting capabilities needed to deter adversaries and prevail in combat.
26 Jan 2023
AFWERX Refinery Program Postured to Address CSAF’s Action Orders, SECAF’s Operational Imperatives
Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series. WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) -- The Refinery program, an initiative of AFWERX’s Spark division, is addressing the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s, or CSAF’s, Action Orders andWRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) -- The Refinery program, an initiative of AFWERX’s Spark division, is addressing the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s, or CSAF’s, Action Orders and the Secretary of the Air Force’s, or SECAF’s, Operational Imperatives, or OIs, as it works to rapidly advance the projects of Airmen and Guardians. The principal objective of this four-week, hybrid innovation Accelerator program is to target grassroots efforts and further develop tactical project prototypes that directly aid warfighters and ultimately adopt the right operational capabilities into the larger force. “We are taking a deliberate approach with AFWERX 3.0 to single out opportunities for innovation that are most applicable to OIs and Action Orders,” said Col. Elliott Leigh, director of AFWERX. The Action Orders represent CSAF’s call to accelerate change and were updated in February 2022 to detail what the force must do in four focus areas – Action Order A: Airmen; Action Order B: Bureaucracy; Action Order C: Competition; and Action Order D: Design Implementation – in order for the U.S. to remain the most dominant and respected Air Force in the world.
5 Dec 2022
AFWERX Refinery Supports Airman and Guardian Innovators
Editor’s note: This is part one of a three-part series WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Refinery program, an initiative of AFWERX’s Spark division, will host its seventh cohort of Airmen and Guardians for a four-week, hybrid Accelerator program in February 2023 to target grassroots efforts within the Department of the Air Force and rapidly advance innovative projects that directly aid warfighters. “The Refinery gives us a platform to help develop the intrapreneur behind the idea, to deliberately connect to exquisite talent in our research labs, and to remove barriers to adoption,” said Col. Martin Salinas, AFWERX Spark division chief. The Refinery connects Airmen and Guardian innovators with relevant stakeholders and resources in the Department of Defense to develop their grassroots projects. The principal objective is to further develop tactical project prototypes and adopt the right operational capabilities into the larger force. This is made possible through the Refinery's curated process, partnerships and refinement of the ecosystem's acquisition pipeline.