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Individuals and teams from across USTRANSCOM enterprise honored for innovative thinking

Gen. Darren W. McDew (center), commander, U.S. Transportation Command, presented awards to the individuals who submitted the three most practical ideas and the three "biggest" ideas in a ceremony Jan. 27. He also presented 13 individuals with Honorable Mention certificates. Photo Credit: Robert P. Wieland, SDDC, PA Specialist

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Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander, U.S. Transportation Command, recognized USTRANSCOM staff from across the joint enterprise for their innovative thinking and creative problem solving at an award ceremony Jan. 27 for the command’s second Innovation Challenge: Emerging Technologies, and the Commander’s Innovation Showcase Award for the fourth quarter 2016.

McDew opened the ceremony by congratulating all 34 Challenge and 21 Showcase entrants. According to Steve Jobs, McDew said, “‘Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led and how much you get it.’”

“From what I see, you definitely get it,” McDew added.

McDew presented certificates to six Challenge winners and 13 honorable mention recipients.

Awards for the three leading practical ideas were presented to:
•    David Longhorn, Military Surface Distribution and Deployment Command: create a Chief Data Scientist position at USTRANSCOM to help the command better utilize data to provide actionable insights.
•    Thomas Dawson, USTRANSCOM: reduce restrictions on technology that enables and improves agility and collaboration.
•    Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Buyske, USTRANSCOM: develop a central repository for shared files across all directorates with a card catalog containing search capabilities.

Awards for the three leading “big” ideas were presented to:
•    Col. Wade Johnston, Joint Communications Support Element: create the first commercial-off-the-shelf compact datacenter tactical processing node solution that provides a deployable, light-weight, energy-efficient, small-form factor device to commanders.
•    Lt. Col. Robert Bearden, USTRANSCOM: use blockchain technologies for secured communications.
•    Lou Bernstein, USTRANSCOM: develop lightweight, cost-effective multi-modal distribution pallets.

“The command is going to implement a lot of the ideas,” said McDew. “We’re getting so many great ideas, we can’t not do them.”

After the ceremony, Buyske said “the best reward was hearing McDew say he couldn’t believe his idea for a virtual library didn’t already exist.” 

This idea came out of the difficulty he experienced finding information when he arrived at USTRANSCOM, said Buyske. “It seemed very simple to me and not terribly costly.”

McDew then turned his attention to the Innovation Showcase Award.

This quarter, the 725th Air Mobility Squadron, Air Mobility Control Center, won the Innovation Showcase trophy for their “Rota AMCC” smartphone application.

The team developed and executed a smartphone application that provides aircrews passing through Naval Station Rota, Spain, with regularly updated information about seven en route locations in Spain, Germany, Italy and England. The app contains local maps, base contact information, restaurants and common Spanish phrases.

“Feedback we had received from airmen was that they were keeping the same pamphlets from each location without knowing that things had changed,” said Master Sgt. Odis R. King, superintendent, 725th AMS.

Following the initial success of Rota AMCC, the 725th AMS incorporated each 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing en route location’s specific information.

“We’re very happy to receive this award and honored that Gen. McDew and the leadership team recognized the hard work that went into this project,” said King.

The following personnel were recognized as honorable mentions for the Innovation Challenge and Innovation Showcase:

Innovation Challenge Honorable Mention Recipients:
•    Robert Blaum: 3D Printing to Source Parts/Items Globally
•    Lt. Col. Thomas Oziemblowsky: Autonomous Logistics Swarm
•    D.R. Kenerley: Information Sharing and Analysis Organization
•    Paul Curtis: “Nanosensors” for Shipping Packages
•    Cale Ahle: Open AI Ecosystems
•    Ken Bass: Organic Communications Network
•    Christopher Frost: Virtual Reality Training Simulations
•    Alice Deien: Barcode Scanning for Property Inventory
•    Dr. William C. Lewis, Ph.D.: Comprehensive Data Analytics Software
•    Capt. Kathryn Lawrence: Enhancements for KC-135 Crews
•    Maj. James Sprys: Laptop/Tablet-Based Network
•    Brandon Tillery: VMware Software
•    Col. John McCoy: Drone Technology for Air Refuel (McCoy was unable to attend the ceremony.)

Innovation Showcase Honorable Mention Teams:
•    The Cyber Tiger Team, Mobility in a Contested Environment, brought together staff from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, Air Mobility Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Military Sealift Command and USTRANSCOM to develop the “cyber thin-line” by considering mission-critical dependencies that have high operational impact if attacked.
•    The Paperless Contracting Team was a collaboration between the acquisition, staff judge advocate, technology and finance directorates at USTRANSCOM to research and select a secure, web-based system for receiving, reviewing, sharing and maintaining contractual documents. The new system is estimated to reduce the amount of time contract officers spend in these activities by 15 percent.
•    The Joint Planning Support Element Readiness Integration Center has seen a 300 percent return on investment by developing a new approach for training that provides all Reserve Component members the same scenario and tasks without having to travel to Norfolk, Virginia, once a year.
•    The 22nd Air Refueling Wing Plans and Programs team saved the Air Force more than $2.4 million by developing and implementing innovative technology solutions to common problems.

The Innovation Challenge was launched in 2016 to encourage the workforce to consider how a particular topic might affect USTRANSCOM in the future. This Innovation Challenge focused on leveraging emerging technologies to remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing and technology-focused world.

The Innovation Showcase was established in 2012 to recognize teams that combine a focus on the commander’s priorities with collaboration and innovation to solve problems for the warfighter. The commander and leadership team review award nominations from across the enterprise quarterly and select one overall winner and honorable mentions.

Award recipients who were not present at Scott Air Force Base attended the ceremony via video teleconference.

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