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Guam’s Reserve Airmen get piece of innovation pie

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tricia Topasna
  • 624th Regional Support Group

Keeping the 44th Aerial Port Squadron’s mission going here is by no means a simple feat. It requires constant training to keep up with the demands of the base’s daily operations. Through the use of Squadron Innovation Funds provided by AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation program, Reserve Citizen Airmen at the Air Force Reserve Command’s largest aerial port squadron will soon have increased accessibility to facilitate mission requirements than ever before.

“If you look at every single one of our surveys that come back [from members] ‘not enough workspaces’ is the biggest problem,” said Master Sgt. David Popp, 44th APS assistant aerial port manager. “With our unit manning continuing to grow, we had to find a way now to give them more workstations to take care of computer-based training, so they can go out and perform hands-on training without degrading morale.”

Dubbed as a “Super Port” with a manning of 200 plus "Port Dawg" members, the 44th APS has dedicated the $70,000 SIF received into creating its very first cybercafé, with intent to not only to enhance morale with a new look and feel to its current platform, but more importantly, boosting productivity during busy Unit Training Assembly weekends through workspace redesign.

“I believe it will give our Airmen that relaxed feeling that they can go there and they’re not going to be wasting their time waiting for a computer,” said Popp. They’re actually going to be able to accomplish what they need to accomplish and then go do their actual job like going to the port.”

Popp along squadron leadership led by Lt. Col. Carla Lugo, 44th APS commander, conducted a study of overall workspace utilization and found only 38 percent of their members had immediate access to the Air Force network with a limited number workspaces at any given time.

“The addition of the cybercafé brings much needed modernization to the unit,” said Maj. Benjamin Guerrero, 44th APS operations officer. “We pride ourselves on our work ethic, and the extended family, bonds and close relationships that we build here, but the office space has needed to be reworked over the past few years.”

Guerrero spoke first hand as he, and a few others, are the first utilizing a portion of the building that has undergone the initial phase of workspace reconstruction with completion expected by late August.

“With more tech savvy Airmen, access to Wi-Fi, new and more comfortable work spaces, we hope to provide a healthier, more productive atmosphere so Airmen have a more positive experience while training,” said Maj. Guerrero. “It has been a great addition to the unit and I am excited to see what comes next.”

The cybercafé workspace features seven ergonomic desks with 33 individual spaces set up to support computers and a supply wall organizer for extra storage. In addition, an eight-person lounge area with privacy glass offers members a quiet place to study or log in to the Wi-Fi.

“Air Force Wi-Fi will be streaming throughout the building,” said Popp. “This will allow all our members who are unable to sit at a workstation to log into the Air Force Portal via their own personal electronic devices.”

The unit is anticipating a utilization increase from 38 to 56 percent. With the Air Force Wi-Fi access point, performance gaps for mission readiness and critical training among members will further be minimized.

“They say to always leave a place better than how you found it, and Lugo has been at the forefront with this,” said Guerrero. “She has definitely put her stamp on this.”

The AFWERX Squadron Innovation Fund program has equipped the 44th APS with the necessary tools to quickly address the challenges their Airmen face on a daily basis. By cutting through the bureaucratic red tape, its purpose of increasing their team’s readiness and efficiency through innovation will add to its lethality in a collaborative effort to support the overall mission.