Innovation week seeks to spark ideas

  • Published
  • By Randall Couch
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The Phoenix Spark cell hosted their annual Innovation Week event at the Gonge Innovation Center, April 8 - 12, 2024.  

The event sought to attract innovative Airmen from all over Travis AFB, providing them the opportunity to gain new skills they can take back to their work centers and possibly see some of their ideas accepted and integrated into real life situations. 

“This event provides classes and opportunities for problem solving,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Niquette, 22nd Airlift Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy pilot and Phoenix Spark director of software innovation.  

The first four days of the event featured classes in beginner level coding, Microsoft Power App coding and 3D printing. 

“Travis AFB has created hundreds of products and ideas that were first developed in the Spark lab and are now being used in real life scenarios throughout the base,” said John Dickerson, Phoenix Spark innovation officer. 

Participants attended in-person and virtually throughout the four-day class schedule, which offered 4 different classes.  

“I get asked if I get tired of teaching these classes, but I don’t,” said Senior Airman Kyle Sunderman, 60th Aerial Port Squadron passenger service agent and Phoenix Spark 3D printing instructor. “I love doing this. I always learn something while teaching others.” 

The event culminated on Friday with a Spark Tank event where six innovator teams pitched their ideas to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Derek Salmi, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander, and a board made up of Travis AFB and local community leaders.  

“I’m very happy that this year’s Spark Tank is the first to include a Spouse Tank entrant, encouraging military spouses to bring their own innovative ideas to the panel,” said Salmi.    

The award for Best Presentation was presented to Tierra Ekstrom, the first ever entrant into the “Spouse Tank” event, for her entry requesting an Exceptional Family Member accessible park and playground on Travis AFB. 

The award for the Most Impactful Idea was presented to U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Josiah Burnett, 60th Aerial Port Squadron passenger service agent, for his entry recommending baggage conveyor extensions to be used for loading and unloading commercial aircraft baggage compartments. 

Lastly, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Jogerst, 660th Maintenance Squadron C-17 Globemaster III expediter, was awarded Most Innovative Idea and Spark Tank Champion for his proposal to replace aging and soon-to-be unsupported Microsoft Access applications with Microsoft Power Apps that can be interconnected throughout the base and possibly Air Force-wide.