“We have a mission that’s very important and we want to celebrate that and we obviously want to bring folks into our world a little bit and see what we do and maybe inspire them to come join,” said Theresa Bennett, AFRL chief learning officer who planned Thursday’s events.
AFRL showcased 16 technological advancements at the expo, including a new rocket system, sensor technology and an engine with artificial intelligence, among other things.
One of the projects on display was research and work done to create a mostly aluminum cargo ramp for C-130 aircraft called a “milk stool.” Currently, milk stools are made from wood and weigh 85 pounds but AFRL’s aluminum one weighs just over 32 pounds and has the potential to save the Department of Defense more than $2 million a year in fuel costs, according to the research lab.
“We want to make sure that we share (AFRL’s work) with the community and with the nation because it makes a difference for our Air Force as a whole,” Cooley said.
Researching the capabilities of hypersonic flight has become big focus of AFRL in recent years and work on the topic was on display at the tech expo Thursday.
AFRL recently achieved a hypersonic milestone by completing the critical design review of the X-60A liquid rocket. The rocket is a vehicle that will be used for hypersonic flight research, Wright-Patt announced in an October.
Hypersonic flight is considered the ability to fly at a rate exceeding Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. It’s widely thought that hypersonic weapons would be capable of penetrating current air defense systems.
It’s critical to “attract the brightest minds” when it comes to researching and advancing hypersonic flight, said Ivett Leyva, program officer for high-speed aerodynamics at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Virginia. To make further developments in hypersonic flight, it’s important that AFRL is able to fill jobs with people who can provide a fresh perspective, she said.
“It’s like saying you want to make soup. But, if you don’t have water, it’s not going to come out too good,” Leyva said. “It’s the same thing. If you want to make great things…and things that you’ve never done before, a lot of that creativity and innovation comes from young minds.”
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By the numbers
29,300: Total employees at Wright-Patt.
$15 billion: All AFRL contracts from FY 2013 to FY 2018.
$2.5 billion: AFRL contracts in Dayton region from FY 2013 to FY 2018.
$490 million: AFRL contracts awarded to the rest of Ohio from FY 2013 to FY 2018 .
20 percent: Of all AFRL contracs were awarded in Ohio FY 2013 to FY 2018.