NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) –
AFWERX demonstrated Spark Cells innovations around the world Air, Space and Cyber Conference of the Air and Space Forces Association at National Harbor, September 11-13. A four-bay walkway at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center was named Spark Street, where hundreds of attendees learned about ideas and projects from Airmen and patrons that have improved and strengthened the Department of the Air Force.
“AFWERX invited Spark Cells to the conference to connect leadership and other aircraft with what’s happening in the innovation space and how it can drive ideas,” said Kathy Reid, AFWERX Spark Branch Manager. “This week there were times when it was difficult to walk through Kibirkšties Street because there were so many people at the stands. And you heard the conversations, “My commander told me to come over here and see, have you heard of these ideas of theirs?” So, the side conversations and the curiosity of our airmen was amazing.
Spark Cells is a decentralized network of airmen, patrons, and government civilians at Air Force Bases around the world that implement locally generated ideas and projects, fostering a results-oriented culture of innovation.
Fifteen spark elements from Whiteman Air Force BaseMissouri, Dover AFBDelaware and Spangdahlem Air BaseGermany, for example, attended the Air, Space and Cyberspace Conference to share its success stories.
Tech. Sgt. Kristine Lopez, director of operations for the 48th Fighter Wing’s Innovation Office, known as LibertyWERX, RAF Lakenheath, in the United Kingdom, was an exhibitor at Spark Street, informing attendees of its laser foreign object debris detection system. The system uses high-speed cameras, custom optics and laser line projectors to capture 2D images and high-resolution 3D profiles of airport runways, taxiways and aprons to automatically detect small objects at highway speeds.
The detection system saved the base money by reducing foreign object debris damage to aircraft and eliminated thousands of man hours spent on FOD walks, allowing aircraft to focus on their primary mission.
“We partnered with a small company in New Zealand and that’s unique,” Lopez said. “Many Air Force bases and the Navy are interested in this technology. There is really needed, we just need a program office to pick it up.
She even had the opportunity to share her success story with the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. when September 12 visited Kibirkšties street.
I found out yesterday, so I was mentally preparing myself not to trip,” Lopez added. “I really wanted to emphasize that we are trying to follow his action orders, as well as emphasize some of our Airmen and their brilliant ideas.
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