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Arnold Innovation Center to inspire engineers to innovate

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks

Engineers at Arnold Air Force Base will soon have a place to play around with their innovative concepts.

This figurative “playground,” referred to as the Innovation Center, is being established to offer engineers a venue to break away from the confines of their desks and cubicle walls to brainstorm, prototype, experiment and explore new ideas and fresh concepts that could be applied to the various mission areas at Arnold.

The center is located in Building 536, the former J-4 support building. Arnold engineers wishing to access the facility and the capabilities housed within will get that chance in the next few months.

“The separated center from the typical work areas will help support breaking away from the ‘every day’ work or tasks and support focusing on new ideas,” said Adam Moon, Air Force project manager for the Innovation Center.

Presently, the center contains a 3D printer with an 18-inch-by-18-inch-by-30-inch print platform, a small-scale subsonic wind tunnel that was previously owned by a branch within the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, and a computer room with access to the Arnold Analysis Test Network.

“The AATN gives users access to utilize programs that may not be readily available on AUNet machines and doesn’t require extensive requests to get installed,” Moon said.

Devon Parker and Mike Lazalier were the initial champions for the development of the Innovation Center during their tenures in the AEDC Capabilities Integration Office.

“They envisioned a space where engineers could go be engineers and build the things they wanted to build to help the mission areas,” Moon said. “They wanted it to be a place where prototyping could be done for cheap and without requiring a lot of bureaucratic steps between concept and implementation.”

While it is anticipated the Innovation Center will open for business early next year, Moon said it may not be considered complete for several more years. This is dependent upon the needs of the users.

“More capabilities and resources could be added if there is a valid need,” Moon said.

The center is also home to the Condition-based Maintenance Lab, which will be used for training engineers and the continued development of CBM technologies.

Any engineers who would like to access the Innovation Center must contact either Moon or Dr. Justin Garrard, Innovation Center project manager for the AEDC Test Operations and Sustainment contractor, and provide a valid reason for the entry request.