By Airman Elijah Van Zandt, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 27, 2021
Senior Airman Alexander Luttrell, 341st Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, tests drafting software with a virtual reality headset in the Wing1Werx Innovation Lab, Dec. 15, 2020, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The overarching goal of the Innovation Lab is to improve the daily working lives of Airmen and to serve the mission by improving wing efficiency and lethality through innovative thinking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Elijah Van Zandt)
A dedicated space for Airmen to focus on innovative ideas, dubbed the Innovation Lab, has opened in the contracting building at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
The lab is a large conference room equipped with Wi-Fi enabled tablets and a virtual reality headset with drafting software. Airmen are able to turn their ideas into tangible solutions by researching and corresponding with Department of Defense organizations, academic sources and commercial partners.
The organization responsible for the opening of the Innovation Lab, Wing1Werx, serves as the hub for innovation activity on base. Their overarching goal is improving the daily working lives of Airmen and to serve the mission by improving wing efficiency and lethality.
Since its inception, Capt. Joseph S. Hap, 341st Missile Wing innovation lead, alongside the organization’s leadership team, has worked diligently to expand the opportunities for Airmen and firmly believe the addition of the lab is a big win.
“The Innovation Lab is for Airmen who recognize solvable issues or problems with processes in their workplace,” Hap said. “Anyone can participate in innovation, and this lab can be where the rubber meets the road.”
Wing1Werx was established in February 2020, as part of AFWERX, an Air Force and DoD global initiative to foster a culture of innovation and to engage with new entrepreneurs in the Air Force ecosystem. The program is crucial to the intercontinental ballistic missile mission at Malmstrom AFB, as evidenced by a previous idea pitched by two Airmen to develop a rappelling system used to enter missile launch facilities, an idea that won second place at a quarterly award competition. Another notable pitch, Air Force eSports, has already been implemented across the force.
“We want Airmen to start with an idea, flesh out that idea, do some brainstorming and see which method or means could be used to bring that idea to fruition,” Hap said.
The hope is that the lab will become a permanent fixture on base.
“Your work-related problems and the subsequent solutions are the fuel for this program that we want to make available for years to come,” Hap said.