There is a specialized place here on Minot Air Force Base that is designed to help Airmen discover and develop new concepts to assist in their workspaces. Snuggled in the back end of the Arts & Crafts Center is a top-of-the-line room filled with white board walls, computers, rapid prototyping technology, a 3D printer and a CNC machine. This room is called Atomic Spark. This unique and somewhat new addition to Minot AFB is enthusiastically led by Tech Sgt Dominic Garcia and Capt Matthew Matuszak, who goes by “Savage”. The passionate purpose of this room is to give Airmen accelerated outlets to implement their ideas. TSgt. Garcia—or Dom as he likes to be called— and “Savage” help Airmen and civilian employees on Minot AFB capitalize on innovative ideas and turn them into realities.
Dom, “Savage” and the Atomic Spark Cell are uniquely open to any new idea that may help train, preserve, and improve work output, mission effectiveness or life at Minot AFB. If an Airman would like to see a new operation implemented or found a widget that could assist at the office, but the squadron or team does not have the funds or support, Atomic Spark is the place to go . Once an idea is submitted, Dom will contact the submitter, ask questions, and help figure out ways to make the idea possible. When the idea is fully formulated, the Atomic Spark team then helps secure funding for the project from a range of sources.
While the Atomic Spark is always available for idea submissions and collaboration, a very unique event is coming up on May 18 called the Spark Tank. At this special event, located at the Jimmy Doolittle Event Center 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT, all these innovative ideas will meet for a once-a- year presentation. The Spark Tank Event will take the top ideas submitted through the base and present them thoroughly to a panel of experts, funding investors and base leadership.
A top Award may be given out for the most innovative idea, and the goal is that all presentations will be funded and then carried out to create new and better processes for the Air Force. This event, in which submissions are due by April 29, is open to all active duty members stationed at Minot AFB, no rank restrictions at all. It is also open to certain civilian and contract employees with some regulations. At this time, Atomic Spark is not available to military dependents.
This event is kick-starting the innovation process, taking ideas formed by those who are closest to the mission and packaging and implementing them to benefit the units, Airmen, and Air Force. Imagine Spark Tank as “Start-up Company meets the military.” It is a way to harness the entrepreneurial spirit of Airmen and get innovative ideas into the workplace.
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