JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- During the 2022 Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Spring Commanders, Chiefs, and Spouses Conference PACAF hosted its second annual internal Spark Tank competition here, April 7.
Spark Tank is an annual event where Airmen and Guardians are given the opportunity to pitch their top ideas to senior leadership and compete for funding to turn their ideas into reality. The program is designed to support a culture of innovation across the Air Force community.
Airmen and Guardians pitched their innovative solutions to a board of PACAF leadership to compete for a chance to transform their winning ideas into a reality.
“We really encourage the environment of innovation — that’s our secret sauce,” said Gen. Ken Wilsbach, PACAF commander. “I encourage all commanders and command chiefs to continue to have Airmen think broadly about innovation and come up with ways on how to perform the mission bigger, better, faster and cheaper.”
This year, the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, was selected as the winner for PACAF’s Spark Tank competition. Their idea titled “Project Venom” provides more efficient support to combat sorties through the process of converting commercial-grade fuel into Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8) fuel.
For 90 minutes, the top six ideas from a pool of 60 from across the command pitched their innovative ideas to four judges. The judges’ panel included Wilsbach, Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, PACAF command chief, Timothy Cashdollar, PACAF deputy chief of staff, and Jeffery Sanders, PACAF Chief Scientist. After the judges received all of the pitches, they deliberated for 10 minutes and decided to fully fund all of the projects using an additional $300k on top of the $1M already slated for the competition.
PACAF’s Spark Tank competition aims to encourage Airmen and Guardians to think of innovative approaches to everyday tasks within their work centers.
“It supports every airman, no matter their position in PACAF, to submit an idea and get funding to get their idea accomplished,” said Capt. Raymond Hill, PACAF Innovation Lead and officer in charge of PACAF Spark Tank.
The competition encourages a culture of continuous process improvement among all Airmen while motivating them to be creative, bringing suggestions and solutions to senior leaders.
"Having the opportunity for some of our leading innovations to compete at the PACAF Spark Tank is a reminder that the seemingly small discoveries or impossible grand ideas matter," said Capt. Amy Wheat, 18th Wing Chief of Innovations. "Our senior leaders want to know what’s on our Airmen’s minds. They want to know how to make the daily mission better for our Airmen while not losing sight of the possibilities of tomorrow. The PACAF 2022 Spark Tank competition is an example of just that."