Optimizing excellence and empowerment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devyn Waits
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Innovators who passed through the first phase of Dragon Tank pitched their ideas to 81st Training Wing leadership here, April 4.

Innovators first submitted their ideas to representatives from finance, legal and contracting for approval. Once their proposals were determined feasible, innovators moved onto the next phase of the competition.

Eight individuals pitched their ideas to the panel, ending in five projects receiving funding on the spot and moving onto the execution phase: a license key for accessing a digital library of guidance for preparing dangerous goods and hazardous materials for shipping, training tools and an application for airspace design and analysis, digital display table, commercial motor vehicle simulator and an interview room recording management system.

As a dynamic innovation contest that awards $200,000 of designated unit funds to finance projects that will improve life at Keesler, the goal of Dragon Tank is to challenge Airmen to be creative.

“The contest is about encompassing all these Airmen voices and pushing them towards big innovation,” said 2nd Lt. Jimmy Nguyen, 81st Comptroller Squadron financial analysis flight commander. “Initially, there wasn’t an avenue for Airmen to submit their ideas directly to the wing commander. He wanted to sit on this panel so the Airmen could have an opportunity to watch their visions come to fruition.”

The creativity Airmen demonstrate through the contest underscores the role innovation plays in reoptimization, as innovative solutions lead to evolving the training and tactics warfighters utilize in driving the future force once they graduate technical school at Keesler.

“Dragon Tank represents everything Keesler's all about,” said Col. Billy Pope, Jr., 81st Training Wing commander. “Considering our mission is to train, develop and inspire warfighters, it is imperative that there is a platform that empowers our Airmen’s voices and cultivates their talent. I absolutely look forward to observing how the projects of our winners will manifest throughout the installation as well as the lives and training of our residents.”