“It’s a good opportunity to go see the innovation that’s out there and to see what some of the thought leaders in this space are doing to solve (problems), and also what the Air Force is working to solve as we go forward,” Nathan Parker, deputy program executive officer of the RSO, said in a recent interview.
“Originally, we had planned to do it at Salt Lake City this summer,” he said. “... Given COVID, we actually initially delayed it, and then we turned into a virtual event.”
No regrets, Parker added. “We’re excited about the virtual event. We think it’s going to give users and participants a great opportunity to see what a virtual event can provide.”
Viewers will see technical challenges, keynote addresses and panels discussions, an “innovation playground,” training and a virtual expo. Segues and intros are hosted at the University of Dayton Arena, acting as a kind of “nerve central” for the array of events.
In all, there are 64 teams from across the United States and Canada competing in five technical challenges, each designed to solve some of the Air Force’s most significant sustainment issues.
The idea is simple: Air Force leaders want to stay on the technical cutting edge, and they want to see what’s out there in terms of technologies and supply chain capabilities.
“We looked across the Air Force and looked at where the bottlenecks or the choke points (are), and at a broad adoption of advanced manufacturing, specifically additive manufacturing,” said Parker, referring to what is sometimes called “3-D printing.”
The teams “go after some of our biggest roadblocks” under the watchful eye of expert judges.
“Throughout the week, people will get to tune in,” Parker added. “There are teams who have been competing since July.”
The multi-faceted event will feature not only the recorded competitions, but addresses from a who’s who of Air Force and Wright-Patterson leadership.
Speakers include Gen. Charles Brown Jr., Air Force chief of staff; Gen. John Raymond, U.S. Space Force chief of space operations; Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and program executive officer of the RSO at Wright-Patterson — and many others.
No contracts will result from the competition, but partnerships between the Air Force and proven problem-solvers are possible, Parker said. And a prize pool of about $1 million total is at stake. Each individual challenge has a top prize of about $100,000.
Ohio-based teams competing in the Technical Challenges include:
- RCC Consultants, Dayton
- Techknowvate, Dayton
- Voxel Defense, Cincinnati
- Proto Precision Additive, Hilliard
- SHEPRA, West Chester Twp.
- MakerGear, Beachwood
Ohio-based judges who evaluated the Technical Challenges include:
- Chuck Babish, Technical Advisor, Aircraft Structural Integrity, AFLCMC, WPAFB,
- Mark Benedict, Additive Manufacturing Lead, Air Force Research Lab, WPAFB,
- Tom Broderick, Principal Materials Engineer, Air Force Research Lab, WPAFB,
- Matthew Krug, Materials Research Engineer, Air Force Research Lab, WPAFB,
- Edward Herderick, Director of Additive Manufacturing, The Ohio State University
- Jeremy Marvin, Product Engineering Manager, CATI, Cincinnati,