Airman designs his career
Story by A1C Lillian Miller on 06/19/2019
Men and women have many reasons for enlisting in the United States Air Force, from school to patriotism.
Senior Airman Maxwell Lehmann had three: to save lives, protect freedom and stand against evil. With those in mind, Lehmann signed up to become a pararescueman, but was injured during training and medically disqualified.
“I still needed to find a way to meet my priorities,” Lehmann said. “I could have just sat around, but I chose to build AmnManager.”
An accountability system that uses common access cards to record and provide real-time data on who is present in the dorms and who isn’t, AmnManager was a way for Lehmann to continue his passion for service despite his setbacks.
After developing AmnManager, Lehmann arrived at his first assignment working as a specialist at Barksdale with the 2nd Contracting Squadron. Upon arrival, word spread of his program and Lehmann was soon overwhelmed by the opportunity to expand on his passion project.
“I realized how much I really didn’t know,” Lehmann said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to push it forward but then Barksdale had already begun to push it forward. Honestly, I started to panic.”
According to Lehmann, there were three options, cancel the program, give it to someone who knows what they’re doing or put in the work to learn more himself. The Air Force chose the latter.
“I was put in contact with the Defense Innovation Unit, where they introduced me to Kessel Run where I began my work as a product designer,” said Lehmann. “The assignment was supposed to last six months, but I was extended to stay there for 12 months.”
The Kessel Run program is a software development organization that continuously delivers war-winning software with the intent to modernize the Air and Space Operations Center (AOC), according to the Kessel Run information page.
“It was still a lot for me personally,” Lehmann said. “I was a first-term Airman on a temporary deployment working on completing career development courses, doing my contracting job, all while also learning how to program.”
With his time at Kessel Run, he and his team have been building and perfecting more tools.
“There’s a ton of technical stuff that I have learned from designing programs to build them from the ground up,” Lehmann said. “Also, I’ve grown up a lot. I was able to travel to learn what I love. It was at that time where I really grew a lot.”
Throughout his time in the military, Lehmann has taken challenges head on and demonstrated his ability to overcome.
“His journey is the embodiment of what happens when an Airman truly owns their airspace,” said Col. Sara Custer, 2nd Mission Support Group commander. “He was able to go so far and above his day-to-day job because he kept thinking we can do this better.'”
Lehmann will be permanently stationed to work full-time for the Kessel Run Program at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. He has moved on from the contracting world and has been officially been converted to a computer systems programmer.