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19 AW Spark Tank ignites innovation

Maintenance technician poses for a photo.

James Faulkner, 19th Maintenance Group maintenance technician, displays his innovation that won first place in the Spark Tank competition at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 26, 2019. Faulkner created the eTool Tray that mounts on maintenance carts giving technicians a place to put their laptops and tools while working on an aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

Air Force panel reviews spark tank presentations before deciding on a winner.

Spark Tank panel judges tally up the final scores of contestants before determining the winners at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 25, 2019. The Spark Tank competition gives Airmen the opportunity to bring innovation ideas forward and possibly receive funding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

Air Force Colonel takes down notes from a spark tank presentation.

U.S. Air Force Col. Shane Haughian, 19th Operations Group commander, writes down notes from a Spark Tank presentation at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 25, 2019. Spark Tank contestants were given 10 minutes to present their innovations to a panel of judges for a chance at receiving funding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

Civilian presents orientation video to panel of judges.

Megan Wolery, 19th Force Support Squadron web specialist, presents her orientation video innovation at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 25, 2019. After the presentations, Wolery’s innovation was among the seven to received funding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing participated in a Spark Tank competition at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March, 25, 2019.

A total of eight innovations were presented to a judging panel consisting of senior leaders. The contestants were given 10 minutes to “sell” their ideas to the judges and prove how they would benefit the wing by increasing lethality. Team Little Rock received $450,000 as a part of the Air Force-wide squadron innovation fund, which would be used to fund innovative ideas.

“The passion these Airmen have for our business is amazing,” U.S. Air Force Col. Jennifer Allee, 19th Mission Support Group commander. “They understand their requirements, and finding ways to do their jobs better with more meaning and depth is a testament to the quality of individuals we bring into our service.”

The winner of the Spark Tank competition, James Faulkner, 19th Maintenance Group maintenance technician, created the eTool Tray. The tray mounts on all maintenance carts giving technicians the ability to place their laptops and tools without setting them on the ground with the risk of being damaged.

Among the innovations, six of eight were selected to receive funding. The selected innovations were

  • eTool Tray: a tray that mounts on maintenance carts giving technicians a place to put their laptops and tools while working on an aircraft.
  • Brush cutter with skid steer: A bobcat machine with an attachment to cut thick brush and trees.
  • 3D printer: allows the printing of training aids and tools without the need to purchase.
  • Zumro shelters: an inflatable tent that can be quickly set up to provide field hospitals, command post, or any number of shelters required in a deployed environment.
  • Orientation video: used to provide information on the options military members and their families have on and off base.
  • Food trailer: used to support the Hercules Dining Facility’s new mobile food advisory board initiative.

“We’re too focused on just doing our job,” Faulkner said. “We need to look how we can make things better. You always want to leave a place better than it was when you got there.”

Faulkner’s innovation is a testament to the capability of TLR Airmen to enhance readiness in an ever-changing Air Force.

“Innovative Airmen find better ways of doing the mission,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein. “Their intrapreneurship makes us more lethal, more efficient — they must be supported by leaders who not only remove unnecessary barriers to success, but who also lift up and champion their ideas.”

Airmen are encouraged to bring their innovative ideas forward and pass them up the chain of command to more effectively accomplish the Combat Airlift mission.

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