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ACC recognizes innovation, announces Spark Tank finalists

General Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, speaks to judges during ACC’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Six teams of Airmen from bases across ACC presented their ideas. The winning teams will move on to the finals in Washington D.C. to compete at the Air Force level against finalists from other commands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

General Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, speaks to judges during ACC’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Six teams of Airmen from bases across ACC presented their ideas. The winning teams will move on to the finals in Washington D.C. to compete at the Air Force level against finalists from other commands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Air Combat Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Christopher P. Weggeman, holds a portable magnetic aircraft cover, during ACC’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. The competition, which is part of an Air Force-wide innovation initiative, encourages Airmen of all ranks and careers generate innovative ideas that save time, money and maintain readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Air Combat Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Christopher P. Weggeman, holds a portable magnetic aircraft cover, during ACC’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. The competition, which is part of an Air Force-wide innovation initiative, encourages Airmen of all ranks and careers generate innovative ideas that save time, money and maintain readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Senior Airman Brett Geisler, 9th Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental technician, Beale Air Force Base, California, and Tech. Sgt. Jean-Paul Trevino, 9th MXS E&E noncommissioned officer in charge, present their idea to the judge’s panel during Air Combat Command’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Geisler’s idea to remedy seals on the latch assembly of aircraft canopies has the potential to not only save thousands of dollars, but also reduce man hours by 26 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Senior Airman Brett Geisler, 9th Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental technician, Beale Air Force Base, California, and Tech. Sgt. Jean-Paul Trevino, 9th MXS E&E noncommissioned officer in charge, present their idea to the judge’s panel during Air Combat Command’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Geisler’s idea to remedy seals on the latch assembly of aircraft canopies has the potential to not only save thousands of dollars, but also reduce man hours by 26 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Capt. Tyler M. Moore, 67th Cyberspace Wing acquisitions officer, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, articulates his idea to the judge’s panel during Air Combat Command’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Moore pitched an idea called “Wholistic Care Management,” which he believes could sharpen the Air Force’s approach toward suicide prevention to ensure readiness of the force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Capt. Tyler M. Moore, 67th Cyberspace Wing acquisitions officer, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, articulates his idea to the judge’s panel during Air Combat Command’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Moore pitched an idea called “Wholistic Care Management,” which he believes could sharpen the Air Force’s approach toward suicide prevention to ensure readiness of the force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Capt. Dallas Hogan, 89th Attack Squadron intel assistant director of operations, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and 89th AS Simulator Systems Chief Maj. Phillip Geddes, pitch their idea to the judge’s panel during Air Combat Command’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Airmen from the 89th AS submitted a Spark tank idea proposing an integrated intelligence training workstation. Hogan and Geddes believe their workstation will help the Air Force by replicating how Airmen operate in a real-world environment – maximizing realism while eliminating unrealistic training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Capt. Dallas Hogan, 89th Attack Squadron intel assistant director of operations, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and 89th AS Simulator Systems Chief Maj. Phillip Geddes, pitch their idea to the judge’s panel during Air Combat Command’s 2020 Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Airmen from the 89th AS submitted a Spark tank idea proposing an integrated intelligence training workstation. Hogan and Geddes believe their workstation will help the Air Force by replicating how Airmen operate in a real-world environment – maximizing realism while eliminating unrealistic training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Air Combat Command announced their two 2020 Spark Tank finalists moving on to compete in the finals in Washington D.C. at the Creech Conference Center here, Oct. 17.

ACC’s 2020 Spark Tank finalists are:

Airman 1st Class Brett Geisler, 9th Maintenance Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, California

Geisler is an electrical and environmental journeyman who pitched an idea to Spark Tank judges for a latch-seal track case. In simple terms, the latch seal track case is an assembly Geisler crafted with computer-aided drafting at home.

Geisler’s idea is projected to not only prevent failures during operational inspections of aircraft canopies, but also save thousands of dollars and cut man-hours on the flightline by 26 percent.

“It feels great,” Geisler said. “It feels like I actually put my name out there and accomplished something. I was really hyped to see all of the other ideas because they were awesome.”

Geisler also described how enthusiastic his fellow Airmen will be when they see his idea come into fruition.

“They’re definitely going to be happy,” Geisler said. “My coworkers were excited about my idea before I even entered into this competition.

“They hated redundant maintenance actions just as much as I did. At the end of the day, it’s more promising to see that our parts are going to be in a secure location.”

Click here to see Geisler’s original Spark Tank video submission for the latch-seal track case!

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Caban, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia

Caban is an F-22 Raptor crew chief who articulated an idea to the judge’s panel for portable magnetic aircraft covers (PMAC). Caban spawned his idea from an intrinsic motivation to help pilots bring their aircraft covers with them in flight to use during arrival to deployments and temporary duty assignments. Due to the sheer size and bulkiness of the aircraft covers, Caban sought to increase the F-22’s mobility.

“It feels good to see my product move forward and come to life,” Caban said.

Not only does Caban’s idea increase F-22 readiness, but PMAC can be used alongside any fighter aircraft on the Air Force’s inventory. Caban’s idea is projected to cut individual costs of aircraft covers by more than 50 percent. It will also eliminate the unit cost of aircraft cover transport because fighter pilots will be able to bring PMAC with them in flight.

Caban’s leadership also showed how proud they were of the Spark Tank results.

“Caban is known to be an innovator,” said 1st Lt. Marlene Myers, 1st Fighter Wing aircraft maintenance officer. “He has a lot of great ideas and we’re just really excited for him to be able to showcase PMAC. I think he’s inspired younger Airmen to come forward with good ideas that they have.”

Click here to see Caban’s original Spark Tank video submission for PMAC!

Air Force senior leaders and AFWERX created the competition to spur innovative ideas for operational implementation worldwide. Spark Tank also identifies opportunities for Airmen at all levels to save time and money, maintain readiness, increase lethality and ensure cost-effective modernization across the service.

The annual Spark Tank competition empowers Airmen to constantly examine functions and missions, as outlined in the ACC Strategic Plan. In terms of forward-thinking, this ensures Airmen foster a culture of process-improvement within their units and work centers.

“We’re looking forward to make things better all the time,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason P. Colón, Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. “Evaluate. Re-evaluate. Never maintain that status quo.”

“Stagnant water is never good to drink,” the chief continued, speaking figuratively. “Keep moving forward. Keep the rivers flowing.”

By driving Airmen to examine capabilities and identify areas for improvement, Spark Tank competitions help the Air Force streamline processes to enhance lethality, readiness and air superiority.

“I think the risk is in not considering those ideas because nobody has a monopoly at any echelon on good ideas,” said Col. Brian J. Tyler, Commander of the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. “To the extent we create experts within our fields, those are the Airmen who are closest to the problem. Those are also the ones who are probably most in tune with providing solutions that are feasible.”

General Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command, thanked the semi-finalists for developing and submitting their ideas up the chain.

“We’re really proud of you for putting your brain power to work and for having the confidence to come forward and bring a suggestion to us,” Holmes said. “Supervisors and commanders were willing to listen to suggestions, (to) help shape them and (to) bring them forward.”

These finalists competed against four other teams of contestants from a multitude of career fields and experience levels. They will move onto the finals at AFWERX, where they’ll compete against winners from other major commands at the Air Force level. From there, the judge’s panel will choose six finalists from the pool of more than 20 semi-finalists (two from each MAJCOM, plus two AFWERX wildcards).

Overall, AFWERX judges and Air Force senior leaders make their selections based on which projects have the highest probability of delivering a game-changing impact to the Air Force within six months to two years.

Specifically, some of the criteria Spark Tank judge’s panels are looking for include: potential for impact, solution feasibility, and the ability for contestants to articulate a path forward.

The six Air Force-level winners will then move on to the final round early next year at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, where Airmen will not only present to Air Force senior leaders, but also industry experts and famous investors from the CBS TV show “Shark Tank.”