6th ARW accelerates innovation through USF partnership

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hiram Martinez
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Leadership throughout the 6th Air Refueling Wing traveled alongside Airmen from the 6th ARW Bolt Cell to the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., Sept. 16, after agreeing on an educational partnership agreement with USF alongside a blank purchase agreement with the University’s Institute of Applied Engineering.

With innovation becoming a priority across the Air Force, the 6th ARW Bolt Cell shifted its focus to help accelerate the process, after realizing that Airmen across the wing were working around the clock, with a limited number of resources available to them.

“Let’s face it, innovating is extra credit,” said Master Sgt. Trevor Naismith, the 6th ARW Bolt Cell flight chief. “That's something that most people are doing in their off time, in private, getting things done with what they have at hand. There are brilliant Airmen in the Air Force, who just need a platform to enable them to innovate.”

However, the Bolt Cell found not only one but two new platforms that give MacDill Airmen access to world-class resources from USF.

The first of the two, an EPA, gives Airmen access to Ph.D. level expertise to help further educational opportunities, to discuss, brainstorm and problem solve. Airmen will have academic support available from full-time researchers and faculty, to under and post-graduate students. USF will also provide professional development offerings that are tailored to mission-specific needs through both online or in-person training, seminars, boot camps and dedicated programs.

The second option, according to Sarah Lain, the Director of Customer Engagements at USF, a BPA, includes access to all the things the EPA covers, but additionally offers operational support, including optimized decision making and predictive analytics, data science support, studies and analyses support, rapid prototyping support, including 3-D and laser printing, Academia support, and even includes access to a sensitive compartmented information facility.

“The BPA is really going to help empower Airmen across the wing,” said Naismith. “Airmen can now present their innovative ideas to an entire institution dedicated to providing MacDill with the solutions it needs.”

Recently, Airmen from the 6th Civil Engineering Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit have already begun to innovate via this new partnership.

The Airmen worked alongside engineers from USF’s IAE to enhance the Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare backpack system after encountering a problem with its deployment on the battlefield. Within a matter of days, USF engineers provided the Airmen with a mechanical vertical stabilization system that will enable operators to deploy the JCREW system more efficiently.

“This partnership is exactly the type of collaboration we need to maintain superiority over near-peer adversaries around the globe,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Adam Bingham, the 6th ARW commander. “This agreement will allow us to Innovate and provide custom resources to the MacDill warrior.’  

Both agreements are effective immediately, with the EPA lasting three years, and BPA lasting five.

For more information on how you can present your innovative ideas, contact the 6th ARW Bolt Cell at (813)828-8151 or 6arw.innovation.office@us.af.mil.