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Reserve Citizen Airmen among Spark Tank 2020 selectees

Air Force announces Spark Tank 2020 selectees

Spark Tank is an annual competition where Airmen pitch innovative ideas to top Air Force leadership and a panel of industry experts. Key project themes include improved task management, commercial best practices for healthcare, workforce development, automation, suicide prevention and detection, and maintenance and airfield assessment innovation. (U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

Senior Airman Brandon Dinh, an electro-environmental technician from the 446th Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., demonstrates use of the Battery Cell Extraction Tool.  Airmen at the 446th MXS entered the newly forged tool in the Spark Tank 2020 competition.

Senior Airman Brandon Dinh, an electro-environmental technician from the 446th Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., demonstrates use of the Battery Cell Extraction Tool. Airmen at the 446th MXS entered the newly forged tool in the Spark Tank 2020 competition.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

Reserve Citizen Airmen Master Sgt. Robert Tingle and Master Sgt. Roy Puchalski are among six finalists selected to share their innovative ideas directly with Air Force leaders next month in Florida.

The sergeants from the 446th Maintenance Squadron’s electro-environmental back shop and metal technology shop teamed up to create a new tool that may revolutionize how maintainers around the world complete a routine task, battery cell removal for the C-17 Globemaster III.

“We now have a tool designed that uses leverage to pull the cell straight up and out of the case without injuring anybody and breaking any battery cells,” Tingle said.

The Battery Cell Extraction Tool allows one airman to safely accomplish the task.

Airmen at McChord Field began regularly using the Battery Cell Extraction Tool at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. earlier this year.

Now, as 2020 arrives, the Air Force selected Tingle and Puchalski along with other Airmen will share their with Air Force senior leaders at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium, Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida.

“Spark Tank is a chance to celebrate our Air Force risk-takers, idea makers and entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the status quo, and have determined their own fate by developing solutions that make it easier for us to bring our very best to the fight,” said Lauren Knausenberger, Spark Tank director.

The selection process looked at the need for specific capabilities as well as concerns of safety, policy, Air Force-wide implementation, technical feasibility and scalability.

Spark Tank also offers Airmen the opportunity to get their ideas in front of key enabling agencies that can share expertise and resources such as funding or personnel for the projects being presented and demonstrate pathways for entrepreneurs to make their initiatives successful.

Although only six ideas will be pitched on stage at this year’s Spark Tank, more than 200 Airmen took the plunge and submitted ideas during the campaign on the Air Force’s Ideation Platform, which spurred multiple mini-events at the major command level connecting Airmen with local resources such as public affairs, contracting and legal.

Key themes included improved task management, commercial best practices for healthcare, workforce development, automation, maintenance, airfield assessment innovation and suicide detection and prevention.

“When it comes to finding new and creative ways to improve our Air Force, often times, we don’t have to look any further than our own teammates,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “It’s incumbent upon us as leaders to encourage creativity in problem solving. We must create a culture where Airmen are often trying, sometimes failing, and never giving up. This is how truly innovative teams get ahead. We owe it to our team, and to our nation, to do everything we can to bring the best ideas forward with programs like Spark Tank.”

The selectees to present at Spark Tank 2020 are:


Digital Airmen - Robotic Process Automation
Tech. Sgt. Cherrod J. Overbey
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas - Air Force Personnel Center


Portable Magnetic Aircraft Covers
Tech. Sgt. Daniel R. Caban
JB Langley-Eustis, Virginia - Air Combat Command


K-Wedge C-17 Globemaster III Loading Aid
Tech. Sgt. Brett M. Kiser
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar - Air Mobility Command


Low Cost Threat Emitter Replication
1st Lt. Daniel A. Treece
Luke Air Force Base, Arizona - Air Education and Training Command


Weapons Loading Smart Checklist
Chief Master Sgt. Gabriel L. Flagg, Master Sgt. Gabrial A. Valenzuela and Tech. Sgt. Benjamin E. Angley
Spangdahlem AB, Germany - U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa


Battery Cell Extraction Tool
Master Sgt. Robert D. Tingle and Master Sgt. Roy E. Puchalski
JB Lewis-McChord, Washington - Air Force Reserve Command


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The confirmed panel of “investors” for the 2020 event include Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright and Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive officer.

Are you itching to tackle one of your unit or career field’s pain points but don’t know where to start? Connect with your local Spark Cell or start your own to gain access to the larger AFWERX community and start solving problems at your unit.

(Information in this article was taken from a recent article published by AFWERX.)