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    AFWERX members, teams recognized for leadership, innovation

    AFWERX members, teams recognized for leadership, innovation

    Photo By Keith C Lewis | From left: Maj. Gen. Scott Cain, Air Force Research Laboratory commander; Yosef...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Air Force Research Laboratory

    By Tim Tresslar

    WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – Members and teams with AFWERX, the Department of the Air Force’s innovation arm and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, received top performance awards during the AFRL annual awards ceremony at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Kenney Hall on March 19, 2024.

    Maj. Gen. Scott Cain, AFRL commander and Chief Master Sgt. Carlos Labrador, AFRL command chief, stressed the importance of AFRL and its directorates as the DAF reoptimizes itself to prevail in the Great Power Competition. Cain expressed the value of what everyone in AFRL brings to the team and exclaimed his appreciation for their efforts to bolster national defense.

    “I just want to make sure it's very clear to all of you that it's you that's the key to our success, without you we can't win and we're going to shift the spotlight on to some of those spectacular individuals and all these nominees today to showcase their brilliance,” Cain said. “But I'm proud to lead this entire amazing team and really humbled by all your excellence and your dedication to our mission.”

    The awards recognized the accomplishments of AFRL personnel during the prior year. They covered numerous categories including those for enlisted Airmen, Guardians and officers as well as civilians and teams.

    "I am extremely proud of our AFWERX teammates for bringing home four AFRL-level awards," said Col. Elliott Leigh, director of AFWERX and chief commercialization officer for the DAF. "We're honored to be recognized for the incredibly innovative and unique work we do every day."

    AFWERX award recipients include:

    Lt. Col. Bryan Ralston, AFWERX Autonomy Prime lead, was named AFRL Field Grade Officer of the Year. AFRL recognized Ralston for his leadership of Prime, an AFWERX division focused on accelerating dual-use technologies in the electric aircraft and autonomy spaces.

    Maj. Victor Lopez received the AFRL Commander’s Cup of the Year Junior Force award for his work as an innovator in warfighter technology and rapid transition. As a program manager for Spark Division’s Arc branch, he manages an expansive portfolio, tackling unmanned aircraft systems and artificial intelligence enabled software solutions.

    The AFWERX contracting team was awarded the mission support team award. The team was recognized for issuing 15 broad agency announcements or commercial solutions, opening solicitations for cutting-edge technologies across 162 DAF topics. This generated more than 7,000 proposals and more than 1,300 new contract or other transaction awards, translating to $1.1 billion for small businesses.

    Spark Project STAPEL team received the AFRL Internal Transition team award. Developed under Ghost Cell, an operational innovation cell, the project has shown how AFWERX accelerates agile and affordable technology to deliver disruptive capabilities.

    Also, on March 19, AFWERX announced that the Financial Division won an American Society of Military Comptrollers, or ASMC, Achievement award in 2023 in the Team Achievement - Financial Systems/Digital Transformation category. ASMC is a nonprofit educational and professional organization for financial management professionals supporting the Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard.

    Collectively, the five awards honor innovation, collaboration and impactful contributions toward advancing technology and addressing critical DAF needs. These awards represent a commitment to excellence and progress within AFWERX, ultimately contributing to the advancement of national interests.

    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

    About AFWERX
    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 370 military, civilian and contractor personnel at five hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 6,028 new contracts worth more than $4 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit


    Date Taken: 03.22.2024
    Date Posted: 03.22.2024 16:43
    Story ID: 466906

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