Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, along with guest of honor Vice President Mike Pence as well as the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein, opened the AFWERX-Vegas storefront Jan. 11 at the Howard Hughes Center in Las Vegas.
This is the first AFWERX storefront to open since the Secretary launched the AFWERX program in the fall of 2017.
“Innovation is deeply engrained in the heritage of the United States Air Force in the pioneers and the explorers and the trailblazers to break barriers in the skies above us, to achieve the impossible, to bring the future into the present,” Pence said. “And now, AFWERX-Vegas will contribute to this legacy, I have no doubt. We can’t predict the threats we are going to face tomorrow, but one thing is certain: To defeat our enemies and protect this country, we need a stronger and more agile and smarter military than ever before.”
AFWERX is another example of how the Air Force continues to change the way it does business and take advantage of emerging idea marketplaces.
“All of us know, the pace of change is accelerating and the Air Force has to engage the next generation of innovators, young scientists and engineers, and smart businesses to take us in the future,” Wilson said. “The Air Force has to engage with those innovators who want to help the warfighter defend our vital national interests around the world.”
The Air Force selected Las Vegas as the AFWERX storefront based on the city’s proximity to area, regional university, civic and business leaders as well as Air Force senior leaders and featured innovative company/field grade officers.
“We think the Silver State is the perfect place to open the AFWERX storefront,” Pence said. “Southern Nevada has been on the forefront of innovation for decades. Today, AFWERX-Vegas will be right at the heart of this thriving technical industry, right around the corner from the world’s most advanced combat training unit, and, of course, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with its network of students, faculty and entrepreneurs.”
As a cultural bridge builder, AFWERX-Vegas will serve as a physical hub for innovators to collaborate, fabricate and accelerate results to the frontlines.
“The innovations released here at AFWERX-Vegas, we know, will enable us to continue to accomplish a mission based on innovation and creativity and investment,” the vice president said. “AFWERX will be an incubator for new ideas, a catalyst for new technologies and a reservoir for new solutions for our more complex security challenges.”
The AFWERX program deliberately seeks the talents of non-traditional business partners and the top minds in higher education who can provide fresh perspectives and solutions to complex military issues. Ideas are not limited to the warfighter on the frontlines, but rather for fields ranging from logistics, security and emergency services to public administration, education/training and finance – and everything in between.
“Innovation is in our DNA as Airmen,” Goldfein said. “AFWERX will build on reinvigorating and capturing our Airmen’s innovative spirit, that spirit that has made us the most lethal Air Force in the world. AFWERX will find new ways to do business and will accelerate the transfer of ideas from the lab bench to the flightline faster.”
At AFWERX-Vegas, innovators can bring solutions to life through five in-house programs: tech sprints, rapid prototyping, technology engagement forums, innovation and collaboration events and subject-matter expert residencies. In addition, innovators can visit www.afwerx.af.mil for a list of AFWERX events, contests and resources. While on the website, guests can make reservations to tour the new facility Tuesdays and Fridays.
In the future, the Air Force plans to create a nationwide virtual collaboration tool to include innovators outside the physical boundaries of AFWERX-DC and AFWERX-Vegas. In addition, the service hopes to establish additional storefront hubs throughout the U.S.
Editor’s Note: You can watch the broadcast of its entirety at https://www.dvidshub.net/video/579611/afwerx-vegas-grand-opening-jan-11-2018.