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AFMC announces 2020 Spark Tank finalists

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The Air Force Materiel Command named two finalists to compete against other major command selections in the Air Force 2020 Spark Tank competition. The projects are judged on their potential for impact and likelihood of success in conjunction with the ability of the project leads to identify the way forward for the effort. (U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

Second Lt. Justin O’Brien, 88th Air Base Wing flight chief, introduces his Air Force 2020 Spark Tank Challenge submission, the Liquid Cooled Plate Carrier, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Aug. 27, 2019. O’Brien’s plate carrier is one of two projects that have been chosen by the Air Force Materiel Command to compete against submissions from other Air Force major commands before an AFWERX judge’s panel. (U.S. Air Force courtesy video)

Shown is the Virtual Visitor Control Center project, a submission for the Air Force 2020 Spark Tank Challenge from Tech. Sgt. Maevemallory Kaneakalau, 96th Security Forces Squadron, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Sept. 23, 2019. Kaneakalau’s Virtual Visitor Control Center project is one of two ideas that have been chosen by the Air Force Materiel Command to compete against proposals from other Air Force major commands before an AFWERX judge’s panel. (U.S. Air Force courtesy video)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) --

The Air Force Materiel Command has named two finalists to compete against other major command selections in the Air Force 2020 Spark Tank competition.

The Liquid Cooled Plate Carrier and Virtual Visitor Control Center projects were selected from more than 15 submissions from across AFMC as having the highest probability of delivering game-changing impact for Air Force needs.

“Our team is excited to have the opportunity to bring our game-changing idea one step closer to fruition,” said 2nd Lt. Justin O’Brien, a flight chief at the 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “From the beginning, our team’s goal was to enhance warfighter performance and safety; this brings us one step closer to achieving that goal.”

O’Brien’s LCPC submission aims to provide a low-cost way to combat heat stress experienced by Airmen who require ballistic protection to fulfill their mission requirements. The LCPC is an active cooling system that uses a commercial bladder filled with water in conjunction with an active cooling system and chill pad placed on a user’s back to help regulate body temperature. It can integrate fully with current armor plate carriers without interference.

“Heat stress and related illness negatively impact all aspects of the military; both in an operational setting and in training, O’Brien said. “The LCPC active cooling system is a device that keeps our Airmen in prime fighting condition, while keeping heat stress at bay.”

The Virtual Visitor Control Center project submitted by Tech. Sgt. Maevemallory Kaneakalau, a member of the 96th Security Forces Squadron at Eglin AFBhttps://www.afwerx.af.mil/ideation.html, Florida, aims to leverage modern technologies to reduce the wait times associated with installation access requirements while increasing the capacity to support future technologies for base security. The V2C2 aims to use a mobile application and self-service kiosks to capture necessary personal and biometric information to vet individuals needing access to the base, eliminating paper and badge passes which can be easily compromised. Through license-plate recognition systems and strategically-placed surveillance cameras, the V2C2 can provide detection and accountability of personnel as they move throughout an installation.

The technology may also enhance security forces capabilities to support future technologies such as self-driving vehicles and drone deliveries, Kaneakalau said in the Spark Tank proposal.

“V2C2 originally started as a simple idea to renovate our visitor center into a more welcoming and functioning space,” Kaneakalau said. “Having the opportunity to bring our ideas in front of a like-minded organization truly is amazing.”

Spark Tank is an annual competition where Airmen pitch innovative and often game-changing ideas to Air Force leadership and industry experts. Through partnerships with private-sector businesses and technology startups, winners gain the opportunity to develop their solutions to improve Air Force capabilities across the mission spectrum.

The two AFMC finalists will compete in the finals at AFWERX against the winners from other Air Force major commands. The AFWERX judge’s panel will then choose six MAJCOM finalists and two wildcard selections who will present their project ideas to Air Force senior leaders, industry experts and investors during the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 26-28 2020.

The winners are selected based on the likelihood of their project to positively impact Air Force mission needs within a six to 24-month timeframe. The projects are judged on their potential for impact and likelihood of success in conjunction with the ability of the project leads to identify the way forward for the effort.

To learn more about the Spark Tank competition, visit the Air Force Ideation platform at: https://www.afwerx.af.mil/ideation.html.