AFRL presents annual Innovation Awards

  • Published
  • By Joanne Perkins
  • Air Force Research Laboratory

The Air Force Research Laboratory recently hosted the lab’s third annual Innovation Awards. The event was created to recognize and inspire the efforts of inventors and collaborators.

“The Innovation Awards were created to bring visibility to valuable scientists and engineers in AFRL’s Space Vehicles and Directed Energy Directorates who address the needs of our warfighters,” said Tech Transfer Agreements Specialist Melissa Ortiz. “The awards encourage them to broaden their capabilities, and innovative skills. They also offer resources to academia, and industry — both domestic and international.”

As was the case for so many events since the pandemic began, the 2020 Innovation Awards were forced to make changes to their structure and presentation to ensure safety, while honoring those being recognized.

Seven award categories highlighted the achievements and bench marks of individuals and organizations who have contributed to the success of the technology transfer department within AFRL.

The event was hosted via Zoom, with more than one hundred viewers tuning in. Awardees were able to have friends and family tune in from across the country as they were honored by the Technology Engagement Office of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Speeches were given by AFRL leadership such as Col. Eric Felt, Director of the Space Vehicles Directorate and Director of the Directed Energy Directorate, Dr. Kelly Hammett, while Outreach Director Matt Fetrow provided opening remarks.

The recipients of the awards were being recognized for their work in technology transfer, which is the collaboration with outside organizations to further the work of AFRL research, technology, or resources.

“I think that tech transfer is critical,” said Capt. Roger Anderson, the recipient of the Tech Transfer Agreements Award. “We need to get back the ability to accept risk and move fast. Industry has that mindset and we need to utilize our pathways and embrace the culture of those fast moving companies.”

The collaborations can take on a number of forms ranging from industry to academic institutions. The goal of these partnerships is to bring about technological advancements and innovation within AFRL. The awards not only recognize the achievements of the recipients, but also increases awareness of the opportunities tech transfer offers.

“Excellence in acquisition is figuring out how to make new things and how to make these new things useful to accomplishing the mission,” said Jon Allison who was the recipient of the New Inventions award. “We want to be able to do more than just research, and make sure that our ideas turn into real products.”

With the world of innovation and technology evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, AFRL is doing its part to accelerate the speed and efficiency of its intellectual property, and make sure that its resources are being used to their full potential. The innovation awards are the embodiment of those efforts.

“Challenging ourselves and learning from failures is the key to innovation,” said Dr. Khanh Pham, the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. “Keep learning, be patient and passionate — that’s how we attain great things.”
Award Categories:

Excellence in Technology Transfer (2 recipients):
Dr. Khanh Pham and Dr. Ron Kaspi, AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate

Tech Transfer Agreements:
“Data Fusion for Space Application” Accelerator Team: Capt. Roger Anderson, Dr. Jaime Stearns, Capt. Shannon Young, Space Vehicles Directorate, and Edward Duff, AFRL Directed Energy Directorate

New Inventions:
Jon Allison, AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate

Viral Inactivation by Directed Energy Radiation (VIDER) Team:
1- Technical Team: Brad Hoff, Kyle Hendricks, Zane Cohick, Jeremy McConaha, Matt Franzi, Samuel Schaub, Andreas Schimtt-Sody, Anthony Baros, Naomi Lewis, Space Vehicles Directorate
2- VIDER Contracting and Finance Team: Jaclyn Torres, Brian Roberts, Space Vehicles Directorate

Outstanding Division:
Spacecraft Technology Division, led by Mark Roverse and Lt. Col. Landon Bastow

Support to Tech Transfer:
Logistic Material Control Activity Team (LMCA): Michael Rariden, Valerie Dean, Madleine Sennert, Timothy Sheryl

Between Q4 2019 and Q3 2020, the Tech Engagement Office processed 36 new inventions from 21 different inventors — 15 AFRL employees and 6 inventors from other organizations