Reinvigorating innovation: funding ideas into reality

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Base leadership gather around a table before an audience of onlookers, supporters and base personnel. Each Airman stands before the panel with sweaty palms, a knot in their throat and an innovative idea, all with hopes of receiving the jump start they will need to make their idea reality.

The 2nd Bomb Wing hosted a Squadron Innovation Fund board May 7 and 9, 2018, as a part of an Air Force wide initiative to fast track Airmen innovation.

The fund, officially announced February 2018 by Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, provides subsidy to squadrons to get working ideas out of the minds of Airmen.

“The purpose behind this whole concept is to reinvigorate the innovation at the lowest level and come up with new ideas, procedures and processes to make what we do every day even better,” said Col. Ty Neuman, 2nd BW commander.

Airmen brought their ideas up through their squadrons’ chains of command and the top ideas were selected. Twelve Airmen were selected to brief their innovations to a board of base leadership, including Neuman and Col. Robert Makros, 2nd BW vice commander.

A total of $500,000 was made available for units throughout the 2nd BW. Ideas presented ranged from a device used to expedite training to an infant nebulizer loan program.

Briefers explained their notions in an attempt to convince the panel why a portion of the fund should be allotted to their innovation. They then answered questions as their ideas were discussed and analyzed by not only those around the table, but by other personnel attending.

“It was very interesting getting to watch as other squadrons briefed their innovative ideas,” said Staff Sgt. Jasmine M. Gibbs, 2nd Force Support Squadron force management supervisor. “We all contribute to the mission in our own ways so getting to see each other's wants and needs from different points of view was fun and informative.”

The open forum allowed board members to share multiple perspectives on the impact the ideas would have, and proved to be very nerve-wracking for some presenters.

“Watching others brief and get questioned before me definitely made me anxious. Not because of the ranks in the room, but just the mass amount of people and wanting to have an answer for every question that was raised,” Gibbs said. “Once I got up front it was a tad intense, but it also gave me confidence. The fact that they are so high up and took the time to listen to all the different ideas from different tiers was really appreciated. It was a nice reminder that they care about us and want to help and keep up with the times on top of that.”

Regardless of the anxious atmosphere, 11 innovative ideas were able to receive the funding needed to become reality.

“We were given the responsibility to apply these funds to ideas that we think are going to make this a better place and make our work centers safer, more efficient, more practical or even more modern and that’s exactly what we did,” Neuman said.