By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published June 07, 2019
Squadron Officer School students listen as they receive feedback from Air University senior leaders on their Think Tank proposals, May 31, 2019, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. An elective at SOS, the Think Tank model has been redesigned recently and some of the students’ proposals have already drawn the attention of senior Air Force leaders, such as the use of artificial intelligence to streamline and simplify permanent-change-of-station moves. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Col. Wayne Straw, Squadron Officer School commadant, gives his feedback to a group of SOS students who are participating in the school's Think Tank elective, May 31, 2019, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The Think Tank elective challenges Air Force captains to come up with solutions to big Air Force issues. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
A subject matter expert gives his feedback to a group of Squadron Officer School students on their initial Think Tank presentations, May 31, 2019, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Think Tank is an SOS elective that challenges students to find solutions for big Air Force issues. This class was further tasked with coming up with ways in which Artificial Intelligence could be used to better Air Force processes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
Air University’s Squadron Officer School students pitched their initial ideas on how to better certain processes within the Air Force to the school’s commandant, Col. Wayne Straw and a panel of subject matter experts, May 31, 2019, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
The ideas pitched were a part of the SOS elective Think Tank, which challenges SOS students to create solutions for the Air Force’s major issues and then present them to senior leaders.
“Think Tank is an opportunity for a select group of students to tackle a major issue and present creative solutions to senior leaders,” said Lt. Col. Jason Trew, 30th Student Squadron commander. “It is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging and students are expected to work well beyond the SOS curriculum.”
The Air Force captains were asked to curate problems for the newly created United States Air Force – MIT Artificial Intelligence accelerator program, which was developed by the institution in order to better study specific areas of research, such as advanced algorithms and machine learning.
“The rewards for both the students and the Air Force can be enormous,” said Trew. “Team members receive intensive coaching on design principles adapted from the best practices in industry, academia and militaries from across the world. What they learn and practice are directly applicable to the strategic thinking skills that are highly valuable to leaders at all levels. In the past, this approach has generated innovative ideas at all levels of the Air Force.”
The three groups of students had ten minutes to present their idea on how AI can be used to solve big Air Force issues.
The first group asked themselves, if a third of the Air Force budget is spent of people, then how do we optimize the war fighter? Their idea was to utilize AI in a way that could improve the way Airmen are trained.
The second group had a similar approach as the first, but from a maintenance specific perspective. Their idea was to find a way to capture the knowledge and lessons learned from seasoned maintainers and making it easily available for new Airmen.
The third and last group took a different approach to the issue. Instead of figuring out a way that AI could be used to solve an issue, they asked how the Air Force can continue to generate ideas and solutions outside of the SOS Think Tank.