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AFWERX Spark, DOD partners train Airmen to pitch ideas with confidence

  • Published
  • By Tim Tresslar

 AFWERX Spark and other Department of the Air Force innovators gathered Nov. 14-16 in Moraine, Ohio, to create a curriculum for teaching Airmen and Guardians who want to effectively pitch innovative ideas to high-ranking military officers and civilians.
The three-day event took place at the Advanced Technology and Training Center (ATTC), a University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) and The Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO) partnership facility. Subject matter experts from a variety of organizations pooled their years of knowledge and varying perspectives of design sprint methodologies and effective pitch coaching tools to organically build internal capabilities for identifying and teaching the art and science of pitch coaching.
Attendees included key influencers from the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force Management (SAF/MG), AFWERX (representing the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics), the Air Force Strategic Studies Group (representing the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force), Air Force Futures (HAF A5/7) and the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center. “Documenting the innovation knowledge AFWERX Spark and other innovation programs have gained, so it can be shared with future Airmen and Guardian innovators, is critical to the DAF’s ongoing efforts to stay ahead of global competitors,” said Crystal Ortiz, DAF Innovation and Spark Tank OpsO chief. “Not only does it pass along knowledge to new innovators, but it eventually will also allow more experienced staff to move on to other developmental and strategic tasks without hindering the DAF’s innovation efforts,” she said.

 A group of coaches will convene during the AFWERX Spark Refinery innovation accelerator in January, as a result of this collaborative effort. The coaches will assist with training Airmen and Guardians, who are preparing to pitch their 2024 Spark Tank ideas to DAF Leadership.

Bringing so many experts together allowed the group to focus on both the science and art of pitch coaching, said Kathy Reid, AFWERX Spark division deputy.

“Our goal in developing the curriculum is to train and equip Airmen and Guardians with the tools they need to effectively communicate the idea details and impact to senior leadership. This week, the team focused on the quantitative attributes, which we called the science of pitch coaching and the qualitative soft skills, which we called the art of pitch coaching." Reid said. “The science is easy to document in the curriculum since it focuses on the data collection, however, the art is more difficult to capture given it relates to body language, experiential knowledge and the "why" behind the change, which typically portrays the emotional investment.”
With this superset of methodologies, the team plans to continue using this curriculum going forward as a way to teach Airmen and Guardians at every level how to tell their story effectively. To learn more, reach out to your nearest Spark Cell, or email

About SAF/MG
SAF/MG is responsible for the overall supervision of matters pertaining to Air Force and Space Force performance management of an approximately 700,000-member workforce organized into 160 occupational specialties working at over 200 locations worldwide. SAF/MG provides direction and policy regarding DAF performance management and innovation, develops and implements Continuous Improvement and Innovation (CI²) education and training programs, manages systems for tracking effectiveness of CI²-based changes, and supports service requirements.
About AFRL 
The Air Force Research Laboratory 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 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 new contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: