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Surfing to success

Aloha Spark, the 15th Wing’s innovation unit,  recently launched the 15th Wing’s Surfing to Success campaign that allows airmen to submit their innovation ideas to be voted on by other service members to then be executed by Aloha Spark at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 24, 2021. The campaign was originally planned to only permit five winners to be chosen, but after so many ideas were submitted, 14 ideas were selected by 15 WG leadership. (Courtesy Photo)

Aloha Spark, the 15th Wing’s innovation unit, recently launched the 15th Wing’s Surfing to Success campaign that allows airmen to submit their innovation ideas to be voted on by other service members to then be executed by Aloha Spark at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 24, 2021. The campaign was originally planned to only permit five winners to be chosen, but after so many ideas were submitted, 14 ideas were selected by 15 WG leadership. (Courtesy Photo)

Aloha Spark serves as the 15th Wing’s innovation unit to help foster an environment where airmen can contribute to innovation and increase effectiveness at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 24, 2021. The Aloha Spark office is outfitted with high-tech equipment such as 3D printers and high end computer accessories to assist with projects. (Courtesy Photo)

Aloha Spark serves as the 15th Wing’s innovation unit to help foster an environment where airmen can contribute to innovation and increase effectiveness at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 24, 2021. The Aloha Spark office is outfitted with high-tech equipment such as 3D printers and high end computer accessories to assist with projects. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

Last September, Aloha Spark launched the 15th Wing’s Surfing to Success—a campaign allowing airmen to share their innovation ideas and the joint base population to vote for their favorite.

Aloha Spark’s mission is to significantly increase military effectiveness through agile practices, technology, and partnerships by leveraging the innovation within airmen.

The campaign captured ideas from the wing ranging from small-scale projects to ideas that have potential for Air Force-wide impact.

The original goal of the campaign was to execute the top five ideas selected by Col. Daniel Dobbels, 15th WG commander, but after more than 30 ideas were submitted, Aloha Spark and Dobbels selected 14 ideas for execution.

In total, there were more than 500 idea views accumulating 330 positive votes. To date, three projects are completed and another two are 2020 Air Force Spark Tank semi-finalists.

“The men and women of the 15th Wing came out in a strong wave to support the innovation campaign,” said Maj. Michael Zeleski, 15th WG Innovation chief. “We had mass participation with dozens of high-value submissions and ideas that will positively impact the 15th Wing and the U.S. Air Force.”

Aloha Spark partners with external organizations, such as D-CODE, Hacking for Defense, the wing’s software development team TRON, in addition to funding and support from AFWERX.

“We strive to enable airmen who want to drive change and we match them with unique and rapid pathways to success,” said Maj. Niko Votipka, 15th WG Innovation officer. “Leveraging airmen motivation with the tools available inside and outside of the Air Force will enable our force to accelerate and change.”

Some ideas that have simple solutions are termed “just do it” initiatives. One idea, submitted by Maj. Kevin Watanabe, 15th Medical Group Health Promotions, fell into this category. Watanabe proposed an educational health garden to teach people introductory gardening skills to promote health and wellness through nutrition. Aloha Spark immediately funded the project themselves to allow for immediate execution.

“We want to focus on improving all aspects of airmen’s well-being,” Staff Sgt. Tyler Poole, 15th WG Innovation project management director. “Providing opportunities and skills that contribute to the overall strength of our force, such as the health garden, is a great way to help both individual airmen and the mission as a whole.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aloha Spark also coordinated efforts with MEDWERX, a 15th MDG organization built to drive innovation within the military medical community. MEDWERX collaborated with TRON to create the Stoplight mobile application that is now used to pre-screen individuals for COVID-19 risks prior to entering the medical group.

“The greatest benefit Stoplight added to the medical group’s innovation arsenal is that it freed staff from having to sit outside watching patients screen and returned them to their work centers to take care of those very patients,” said Master Sgt. Mark Harewood, 15th MDG Pharmacy flight chief.

“Stoplight enabled our clinics to shift their focus from an acute pandemic response to a sustainability response, and it eliminated and eased the barriers to hospital accessibility,” added Capt. Durnay Stacy, 15th MDG MEDWERX chief.

Engaging with airmen to spark ideas and make the Air Force better helped make this campaign successful. Aloha Spark is actively pursuing any leads or ideas that will bring success to the joint base community.

Innovation Thrives in Paradise - Keep the ideas coming!