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Competition Modeled After 'Shark Tank' Aims To Innovate Air Force

Geekdom studio during recorded program as part of the Innovation Rodeo.
Geekdom studio during recorded program as part of the Innovation Rodeo.

Eight teams from across the globe pitched their innovative ideas to transform the Air Force at the Geekdom studio in downtown San Antonio on Friday.

The program was shot just like the reality program Shark Tank

Major Jacque Vasta of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base-Ohio won first place for her pitch before a panel of Air Force judges — an app called Kinderspot.

If suddenly deployed, it would allow Air Force families to quickly “sublease” their child’s spots in daycare or development centers to other military families.

“It’s just going to streamline the process and allow us to handle the booking and payment all within the app,” Vasta said.

Winner Major Jacque Vasta congratulated by Major General Tom Wilcox.
Credit Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
Winner Major Jacque Vasta congratulated by Major General Tom Wilcox.

Major General Tom Wilcox, commander of installation and mission support at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, served as a judge on the panel.

“What we didn’t want to do was bite off more than we can chew and have to go out and do two years of research.  So the ideas had to be at a certain level before they could bring them in here,” he said.

The recorded program is part of an “innovation rodeo” under Wilcox’s command and will be posted to Facebook. The top finishers will have a share of around $1 million dollars in funding to make their innovations a reality.

The second place proposed innovation was augmented reality technology for locating communications infrastructure. Third place went to a proposed innovation for using autonomous mowers around airfields to reduce the risk of bird strikes.

Other ideas pitched:

  • AF Eats — an on-base food delivery service offering healthy options
  • Electronic weapon and equipment tracking systems
  • Scooters AF — an on-base scooter service for Airmen
  • Using bots to improve Air Force real property records and increase sustainment dollars
  • A fire truck positive interlock latch for improved firefighter safety

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

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