New AFWERX Fellowship offers hands-on experience in driving innovation within the Air Force and Space Force
By Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
/ Published December 10, 2020
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX invited Airmen and Space professionals to apply for its new Fellowship program during day three of the livestreamed AFWERX Accelerate event Dec. 9.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass emphasized the need to “educate Airmen” explaining that, “creativity and innovativeness will help us be the Air Force our nation needs.” Bass highlighted the importance of “empowering Airmen and unleashing their potential.”
AFWERX Fellowships involve three to four-month assignments supporting one of the divisions in the organization, like Spark or AFVentures, working in private industry for six to eight weeks. The Spark team engages with warfighters to learn about key issues faced by end-users while the AFVentures initiative creates pathways for commercial entities and investment firms to connect ideas with resources.
“Our Airmen are just really crazy-smart and are solving problems every day,” said Lauren Barrett Knausenberger, Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Department of the Air Force. “You’re always stronger when you collaborate across organizations. We have a lot of people who like to invent things and there are so many cool things that have been invented, but the thing that you deliver is going to be much cooler if you find multiple people at different organizations that are interested in collaborating with you.”
“It also takes very little time and effort by senior leaders to make an Airman feel amazing for an idea. Taking the time to say, ‘you did a great job’ – supporting an Airman’s idea – even giving a slight amount of advice or acknowledging that Airman did something incredible, even if you’re not going to use the idea, is something I think we need to do more as senior leaders because I think it really does kind of feed people’s souls and keep them moving.”
AFWERX Director Col. Nathan Diller noted the “opportunity to join the AFWERX team is open to all ranks from our youngest Airmen to senior members of our enlisted and officer corps.” He explained that this Fellowship aims to show talented individuals how to “move from idea to capability.”
Day three of the AFWERX Accelerate event also featured presentations from Airmen on using coding and prototyping to solve difficult problems.
Day four of the AFWERX Accelerate event, which begins at 12 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 10, will feature exciting Agility Prime news, with featured video of some of the world’s most advanced flying cars as well as the ground breaking for new simulators, ribbon cutting for an electric aircraft charging station, and presentation of a NASA lunar landing trainer using this exciting new technology. The second part of the day will showcase use cases for these electric ORBs, community acceptance, investor opinion, certification pathways, and new funding opportunities in 2021. The day will close with the introduction of new “Prime” technology sectors, leading up to the Friday announcement for this next emerging market bolstered by co-investment with AFWERX.
To register and learn more about AFWERX Accelerate, visit, www.afwerx.com. For the live feed of the event activities, visit www.afwerx.com or http://www.af.mil/live beginning at 12 p.m. Eastern through December 11.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, including AFWERX, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.
Established in 2017, AFWERX is a product of the Department of the Air Force, directly envisioned by former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. Her vision of AFWERX — to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces through innovation and collaboration amongst our nation’s top subject matter experts. AFWERX serves as a catalyst to unleash new approaches for the warfighter through a growing ecosystem of innovators. As a part of the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX and the Department of the Air Force are committed to exploring viable solutions and partnerships to further strengthen both our space and air forces, which could lead to additional prototyping, R&D, and follow-on production contracts.
Fast Company named AFWERX Best Workplaces for Innovators on the 2020 List, honoring the top 100 businesses and organizations that demonstrate a deep commitment to encouraging innovation at all levels. AFWERX, the Department of the Air Force’s innovation arm and catalyst for fostering innovation within our space and air forces, came in at #16 ranking in the top 20 alongside brands such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.