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1st FW ignites innovation

1st FW ignites innovation

Story by A1C Monica Roybal on 02/26/2019

The 1st Fighter Wing will launch its inaugural Innovation Cell project to aid U.S. Air Force Airmen generate creative solutions that will better the execution of daily duties at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, March 1, 2019.

The cell is a grassroots innovation program that aims to empower 1st FW members to bring tomorrow’s tools to today’s war. Airmen will have the unique opportunity to collaborate and network with operational experts and top problem-solvers in industry and academia.

“We want to offer passionate Airmen a space to come collaborate and ideate,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jackson Jeter, 1st FW Innovation Cell superintendent. “We want to spark a culture change with this program and this is where it starts. Innovating procurements faster. Acquisitions faster. Technology faster.”

The program will commence with bi-monthly “brown bag” lunch meetings where interested Airmen can discuss their ideas with wing leadership and receive feedback and guidance on how to execute their proposals.

“We have Airmen here who are much smarter with technology and have better ways of executing their daily duties,” Jeter said. “There are some antiquated processes and equipment that some of our Airmen are using and I know they have solutions that can better streamline how we carry out our mission.”

According to Jeter, overt support for innovation is driven from the National Defense Strategy in which all Department of Defense branches have been charged with cultivating a climate of innovation in an effort to maintain dominance in technological modernization.

“This is bigger than a 1st FW cell,” Jeter said. “Our military leaders have recognized that layers of bureaucracy have completely slowed down our acquisition timelines and it is hindering the speed required for us to remain relevant in a technological age. We need to produce at rates required to win wars.”

Innovation cell members, or intrapreneurs, will have the opportunity to collaborate with academic and industry professionals who can help them curate their ideas and refine their problem statements.

“Collaboration is the name of the game here,” Jeter said. “If a maintainer is out there turning wrenches every day on the flight line, they may not have the experience or time to really flesh out their ideas, but when they come to our innovation cell there will be a myriad of professionals to help them work on their product.”

Jeter explained that as the cell creates pathways and resources to solve 1st FW tactical-level pain points, program leaders are looking ahead to possibly consolidate with other innovation cells within other Langley organizations.

“We are hoping our cell can grow and collaborate with these other innovators,” Jeter said. “Our end-game is to stand up a Langley Innovation Cell and have all the wings working together.”

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