Travis hosts local high schools for "Spark Challenge"

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexander Merchak
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The 60th Air Mobility Wing Phoenix Spark Innovation cell and the Solano County Office of Education co-hosted the Travis Spark Challenge, inviting students from local high schools to compete to solve installation-based problem sets on May 19, 2023.

More than 60 students from 11 different local schools came together to provide innovative solutions to issues such as gate traffic flow, dining facility logistics and perimeter installation security.

“We wanted to have a way for these kids to get involved with their community and Travis is a big part of that community,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Sean McKinney, 60th Air Mobility Wing Phoenix Spark superintendent. “I thought involving those in the academia world here in Solano County would pull a lot of value in their eyes, maybe even spark a vison of joining the Air Force.”

Each team of students researched their problem extensively and presented a proposed solution to a panel of judges from Phoenix Spark, installation leadership, the Solano County Office of Education and a previous Spark Challenge winner.

“The whole point of this is to let them come up and innovate,” said Kelley Birch, Solano County Office of Education College and Career Readiness director. “The reality is, they see things from a different lens; they have some great ideas and sometimes it just takes an adult to hear them.”

During the event, the panel of judges selected a winner for each problem set. Additionally, the panel selected an overall “best presentation” winner for the project that showed the most innovation and could have the biggest impact on Team Travis.

The winning Teams and their challenges were: AFJROTC De Anza Team #3 – “Flight Line Perimeter Control,” Golden Hills Community – “Dining Facility Flow of Customers” and Will C. Wood “Wildcat Garage” – “Gate Traffic Flow.”

The team awarded best overall presentation based on detailed research, solution viability and innovation was Winters High School with an “excellent prototype” for the “Gate Traffic Flow” challenge. The developed a technology-based solution with a working prototype that would significantly improve gate traffic back-ups on the installation.

For more information about Phoenix Spark, visit