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    AFWERX Spark Crossflow event spurs innovation and collaboration

    AFWERX Spark Crossflow Event Spurs Innovation and Collaboration

    Photo By Kacey C Napier | More than 100 Airmen, Guardians, and Defense attendees gathered at the AFWERX Spark...... read more read more

    SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES

    05.07.2024

    Story by Kacey C Napier 

    Air Force Research Laboratory

    SPOKANE, Wash. — The AFWERX Spark team launched the first Crossflow event of the year, April 23-25, 2024.

    Crossflows offer the Department of the Air Force Innovation and Process Improvement ecosystem a chance to concentrate on development, collaboration and strategic alignment toward operational imperatives.

    The event, held in Spokane, Washington, brought more than 100 innovators together from across the Department of Defense to focus efforts on combat innovation and tactical edge execution.

    “Enhancing crossflows to foster collaboration between strategic and tactical levels is crucial as we pivot our focus toward Great Power Competition (GPC).” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Nash, AFWERX Spark Regional Spark Cell Coordinator and event organizer. “Prioritizing combat innovation should be the central focus for everyone in this ecosystem. We must cultivate a culture that transforms risk into experimentation at the speed of relevance, while ensuring clear and concise communication across at all levels of command. Achieving this involves establishing robust networks and nurturing relationships at the crossflows.”

    Spark continues to work on uniting the decentralized network of DAF innovation and improvement teams through these events. The Crossflows create a place where all can converge to build relationships and solve problems, Nash added.

    The agenda for the event included Design Thinking activities such as Ecocycle Planning and Critical Uncertainties. These facilitation methods encourage lively participation and create conditions for the attendees to work at the peak of their intellect and creativity. Event organizers, Master Sgt. Dakota Belcher and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nash, arranged informational presentations from Spark Cells and Rapid Acquisitions teams, and breakout sessions designed to provide attendees with an opportunity to delve deeper into facilitation skills.

    “I think there's a lot of added benefit to attending the Crossflow events,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brett Kiser, senior enlisted leader for the chief of staff of the Air Force Strategic Studies Group. “You finally get to put faces to names and work together to learn what each other is doing, sync efforts and coalesce. It's a way to build relationships that you would not normally have an opportunity to, then also use those relationships to help get projects across the finish line.”

    More than 40 different bases across the globe were represented at the three day event, reaching as far as Alaska, Hawaii, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Australia. This included representatives from the Space Force, as well as DoD and DAF partners National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and the Secretary of the Air Force Strategic Studies Group (SSG).

    “I like to learn about all the different avenues for getting where you want to go,” said Tech Sgt. Darren Hernandez, Continuous Improvement and Innovation Manager at the Kadena Air Base 18th Maintenance Group. “They were talking about NSIN the other day, there's going to be a money piece today and some other avenues where you can take problems to be able to see a fully realized solution. Because, you know, it really takes a team - you don't have to do it alone and nobody knows everything. So having access to these resources makes it possible to see the end result.”

    Spark is the AFWERX division focused on connecting Airmen and Guardians within the DAF, as well as the broader DoD, with diverse, innovative people from the commercial sector. By having tactical innovation cells at Air and Space Force bases around the world, these small groups of DAF innovators are empowered to execute locally generated ideas and projects.

    Leadership underscored the mission of the Crossflow event, emphasizing its significance in advancing the Department of the Air Force's strategic objectives.

    “Spark Cells are the brain trust of the Air Force and Space Force, and Crossflows are premier events to bring Spark Cells together to upskill, build networks and set the design thinking culture,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Warren, AFWERX Spark division chief. “AFWERX Spark as a whole must evolve to meet tomorrow's fight. Keeping our network of Spark Cells informed, engaged and connected is a phenomenal way to build multi-capable Airmen and Guardians that Great Power Competition demands. I foresee that as the Department of the Air Force positions to fight differently, they will be asking new things of Spark and we are absolutely prepared to answer that call.”

    For those seeking more information about Spark Cells, please visit afwerx.com/divisions/spark/spark-cells/.

    Airmen, Guardians, DAF Civilians and all DoD innovators are encouraged to participate in the upcoming Eastern Crossflow event scheduled for June 11-14, 2024, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information, contact your respective Spark Cell or reach out to sparkcells@afwerxspark.com.

    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 afresearchlab.com.  

    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: afwerx.com.

    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.07.2024
    Date Posted: 05.08.2024 07:27
    Story ID: 470618
    Location: SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, US

    Web Views: 125
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN