AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
Ideas intended to improve working conditions for Airmen were selected by the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing leadership board for squadron innovation funding here July 20.
Out of the 20 ideas that were submitted, 10 were chosen to receive these funds. The winners included two each from the 380th Expeditionary Medical Group, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance, Security Forces and Communications Squadrons. There was also one each from the 380th Force Support Squadron and 968th Airborne Air Control Squadron.
With the ideas submitted, there was a common theme found amongst them, according to 1st Lt. Tierra Franklin, 380th EAMXS officer-in-charge of the Hawk Aircraft Maintenance Unit.
“There was a technology focus on the ideas submitted,” Franklin said. “This was from the encompassing of virtual reality headsets into training to the implementation of radio-frequency identification weapons being given out to our Defenders during their arming up process.”
One of the ideas selected for the funds was put together by Master Sgt. Christopher Maher, 380th EAMXS Lightning Technician program section chief, who submitted the proposal for golf cart solar panels.
“When I arrived at ADAB, we were short on vehicles because other units were still on station,” Maher said. “I noticed the fabrication flight had a couple of dead golf carts with months of dust and dirt caked on them. We coordinated the resources for batteries and a few minor parts to revive them from the dead. After the innovation funds email came out, I googled ‘golf cart solar panel’ and sure enough, it popped up with multiple sources. I thought this would be a great idea and ran it by my leadership. I did some more research, weighed the pros and cons, and then put it all in the proposal.”
Master Sgt. John Ott, 380th EAMXS F-35 production superintendent, also submitted an idea that was selected for SIF. Ott produced the idea for the portable dry ice maker, and he discussed how the selection could help the squadron in the future.
“It’s great, more importantly though, it will be nice to see one of the logistical coordination headaches alleviated from our maintainers,” Ott said. “It’ll open the doors even wider for that sense of job satisfaction.”
Brig. Gen. Larry Broadwell, 380th AEW commander, was encouraged by the ideas presented to the leadership team.
“The SIF program fosters a culture of innovation and action at all levels, particularly with our newest, most creative Airmen,” said the commander. “The program connects the best ideas with the resources necessary for implementation. By cutting through the bureaucracy, we send a powerful message to our squadrons that we depend on them to make our service more ready and lethal. Congratulations and keep the ideas coming.”
The 10 proposals selected for the funds will now enter the implementation phase, where the Airmen who put them together will work with their respective resource advisors and finance to get these assets purchased.