ATHENA at Sea

By CDR Michele Day

On April 14th, while transiting the South China Sea, USS RONALD REAGAN hosted the first ATHENA project event on an aircraft carrier. The audience, not knowing what to expect, was full of questions and brimming with excitement!

Flight Deck Roomba
LT David Levy

LT Levy’s idea leverages commercial technology to lessen the burden on the flight deck crew by programming a modified Roomba to clean the flight deck during non-flight operations maintenance periods. Many night after flight operations have concluded the aviation maintainers conduct maintenance on the flight deck, where the darkness can make it difficult to find small nuts and bolts when dropped. The Flight deck Roomba would drive a pre-programmed route to assist with clean-up after nighttime maintenance. As Foreign Object Debris (FOD) walk down impacts a large portion of the crew, there was a lot of interest, however LT Levy was adamant that the Flight Deck Roomba would not replace FOD walk down as nothing is as good as the mark-one-mod-zero eyeball for finding FOD. Much of the audience questioned the necessity and value of the flight deck Roomba if it would not replace FOD walk down.

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LT Greg Hahn answers questions during the Q&A portion of his pitch.

Custom Boot Insoles
LT Greg Hahn

“How many of you stand on a steel deck for more than 10 hours a day?” posed LT Hahn. Hands across the room shot up from tired and sweaty sailors. He then went on to describe a custom insole made from recycled materials that will not only provide cushion, but will increase cooling and circulation in work boots. LT Hahn stated he did not think the boot manufacturers contracted by the Navy would include custom insoles, but these could easily be purchased after market. During the Q&A session many questions were raised regarding how these insoles are different than insoles already on the market and if the Navy would provide money for purchase of such insoles.

LT Aaron Kakiel
Laser Pointer Alternative

Over the past 10 years we’ve seen the presentation standard move from a stick pointer to the laser pointer and the slide projector five way to the overhead projector and the LCD monitor. LT Kakiel’s idea is to replace the laser pointer with technology that exists in most family homes today by re-purposing the motion capture technology from gaming consoles. He explained two primary benefits; 1) The beam from laser pointers is often refracted when it hits the LCD screen, resulting in the laser beam shining into the audience members’ eyes. 2) The laser pointer presentation does not lend itself to collaboration. By utilizing motion capture technology, more team members can participate in the meetings. During the Q&A session the discussion centered on the need to modify the technology such that random movements (stretching, drinking water, etc) are not captured and displayed on screen.

PRT Spotcheck Program
AOAN Walter Johnson

AOAN Jackson’s pitch was simple and passionate. Far too many sailors prepare for the Physical Fitness Assessment a few weeks before the PFA and then neglect their fitness and diet until the next PFA cycle. By instituting random spot checks, all sailors would be forced to maintain a steady strain approach to working out and eating healthy. During the Q&A session an audience member stated the new PFA instruction had an allowance for commands to conduct spot PFA’s if a member appeared to be in danger of future failures. AOAN Jackson stated he had not read the new PFA instruction, but his idea was for an outside entity, such as ATG, to conduct the spot checks in order to avoid the potential for commands to refrain from spot checking their high performing sailors who were not in the best shape. This led to a lively back and forth exchange across the audience about the need for certain technical skill sets that were very sedentary in nature (e.g. Cyber defense/hacking) and the possibilities of having a portion of the workforce subject to a different set of physical requirements as sea-going sailors need a certain functional strength that sailors in potential land-locked ratings will not require.

Fixing CANES
IT2 Mason Lybrand

CANES onboard USS RONALD REAGAN is the bane of most sailors quality of life at sea. As our young sailors are digital natives, their reliance on the NIPRnet for social networking a top priority. Additionally, most UNCLAS technical manuals are not maintained onboard and many sailors rely on schoolhouse reach back and online distance support for technical trouble shooting. All of our travel and logistics websites reside on the NIPRnet as well. The design of CANES is flawed in that one server supports all inbound and outbound traffic, for the entire carrier. As a result the server is easily overloaded. The additional of an additional server rack would alleviate the load and greatly improve network performance.

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Admiral Sims Award Winner, GM2 Payge Shelton, gets the crowd excited about her pitch for the Hippocampus Stimulator!

Hippocampus Stimulator
GM2 Payge Shelton

***Admiral Sims Award Winner***

GM2 Paige’s pitch was inspired by her experience dealing with two subsets of sailors; 1) Sailors who are smart, but lack a work ethic and only joined the Navy long enough to get the GI Bill and get out, and 2) Sailors who really care about the Navy and work hard, but struggle to pass promotion tests. Her idea is by year 3 or 4, the hardworking, dedicated sailors, would be successfully weeded from the chaff. They could then voluntarily sign-up for Hippocampus Stimulation treatment – either via electrical shock or injection. GM2 Paige expertly explained the science behind Hippocampus stimulation and how the use of stimulation during the learning phase suggests that sailors would not require continuous stimulation to boost their memory, but only when they are trying to learn important information. She also noted that in the future this technology may lead the way to neuro-prosthetic devices that can be turned on and off during specific stages of information processing or daily tasks. This additional cognitive function will give hard working sailors the ability to achieve higher scores on advancement exams and promote ahead of the less motivated sailors. The excitement for this idea was palpable as many sailors in the room expressed frustration with pockets of sailors whose negativity brought everyone down, but was tolerated by leadership because of the individual sailors knowledge and skill. GM2 received the most votes for her idea was well researched and she explained in detail how this technology could be implemented in the Navy in the not too distant future. Her enthusiasm was contagious and by the end of the presentation we had sailors willing to line-up for Hippocampus stimulation now!

ATHENA Far East 4.0 will be later this fall. In the meantime, check out the C7F Innovation Pitchfest on Friday, August 18th, 1300-1600 in room 216 of the MWR building!

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Athena Far East 3.0 Roundup

By CDR Michele Day

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On April 21st, a motivated group of FDNF sailors met at the world renowned Submarine Sanctuary to collaborate and make positive change in the Navy. Due to time constraints, we were limited to 3 inspired pitches, so keep your calendars open in August for ATHENA 4.0, as it stands to be a blowout event!

Our emcee gave a quick history of ATHENA and reviewed the pitch rules before pulling the first presenter’s name from the Innovation Lantern. This Lantern has presided over ATHENA events back to San Diego’s Waterfront ATHENA 2.0!

The afternoon was electrified with innovative ideas and the desire to make the Navy better! So, without further ado, here is the roundup of the concepts presented.

LT Jason Highley – Li-Fi, the key to shipboard secure, wireless, computing

**Athena FE 3.0 Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage**

The Navy is in a fight for talent – young sailors joint the Navy expecting the latest and greatest in technology as they are all Digital Natives. They exist in the digital world, and unfortunately the Navy is behind the times when it comes to mobile computing onboard ships – for both work and quality of life. LT Highly immediately capturing our attention by setting up a small metal box next to a Wi-Fi speaker. The room filled with the sounds of music as he demonstrated how a cell phone can connect via Wi-Fi. He then put the speaker in the metal box to demonstrate the OPSEC concerns associated with shipboard Wi-Fi. Our curiosity piqued, he explained the answer to this problem is “Li-Fi”. By transmitting over light, everyone in the box can hear can hear, but not outside the box. Li-Fi is a bidirectional, high-speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi that debuted at the 2011 Consumer Electronic Show. Li-Fi would enable sailors to access complete libraries of technical manuals and drawings from anywhere on the ship, both SIPR and NIPR Li-Fi systems could be securely set-up in the shipboard environment. This innovative application of a technology that is readily accessible is why Jason won the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage.

LT Greg Hahn – LED Rack Lights with USB charging ports

Navy LT Greg Hahn, an ATHENA Far East veteran, started the event off by invigorating the crowd with his concept to save the Navy money while improving Sailor Quality of Life. His concept is simple, yet has numerous advantages. Greg deftly explained how Light Emitting Diodes work, the amount of energy it takes to operate an LED, and the relative cost of installing and maintaining LED lighting. Retrofitting a standard Navy rack light with an LED strip, 3 way switch controller, and USB charger would have an initial cost upfront, but the time saved in bulb replacement and the associated shipboard storage and HAZMAT disposal costs would quickly be recovered. Greg took his pitch to the next level as he described how our current fluorescent lights flick on and off at a 60 Hz cycle, which actually fatigues the human eye. LED lights on the other hand do not “flicker” and therefore are easier on the human eye. Another advantage of LEDs as a light source is the pump wavelength is such that it does not contain UVA, UVB or UVC wavelengths that are harmful. Lastly, the LED rack lamp upgrade would contribute to the Navy’s work towards Circadian Rhythm watchstanding as it would provide the ability to employ red lights during sleeping hours.

Petty Officer Jacob Brimhall – Peer to Peer Education

Petty Officer Brimhall stirred the crowed by asking the question – How many times have you heard your command say money for getting Sailors to school is waning every year? As all of the heads in the room emphatically nodded up and down, he went on to ask if anyone was familiar with the Principle of Dynamic Discovery and how it can apply to Education. Silence ensued. He described that Dynamic Discovery, or Dynamic Learning is focused on relevant topics and it is active and agile to keep up with the speed of information. The ability to save money on expensive schools, with historically low pass rates, while training more sailors than the school has throughput is a Win-Win! The crowd, unable to contain their curiosity cried out “HOW?” Peer to Peer Education takes the team mentality to information sharing, by training a handful of smart, motivated sailors and having them train the fleet through face-to-face interactions and online forums.

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While the Far East team spins up Athena FE 4.0, they’re going ahead and hosting the first ever Athena onboard a deployed Air Craft Carrier on June 14th!

Plans for ATHENA Far East 4.0 coming soon… so stay tuned!

 

 

Athena DC 2.0 Roundup

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By AT1 Mike Pecota

Following last year’s inaugural Athena DC 1.0, the second event had much to live up to. In contrast to the previous year’s grand setting inside the Gaylord National Convention Center this year’s event took place in a much more traditional Athena setting: The Irish Whisper Pub right in the heart of National Harbor and it didn’t take long for the audience of Athenians to take over the entire space!

Both years’ events immediately followed the Sea Air Space convention held annually at the Gaylord, taking advantage of the senior Naval leadership the convention brings with it each year.

After winning last year’s event, I had the distinct honor of hosting this year’s event (and being the first Enlisted host of any Athena event). We kicked off with a brief introduction and welcome, we began to foster in a new generation of innovative thinkers!

In keeping up with the high standards set in DC 1.0, this years panel members were hand-chosen for their contribution to innovation leadership in the local area. Unlike any event before it, this year’s presenters and board members alike represented the best of innovation from both the Navy and Marine Corps. Board members included Joshua Smith, the director of TANG at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab; Monica Hutchins, a leader within the Strategy and Innovation office at the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Management); and Captain James Lamontie of the Marine Corps’ Installation and Logistics (I&L) office and the NexLog Innovation Cell.

 The years of experience in grassroots innovation these panelists brought to the table made for some impactful insights into our presenters’ pitches!

And without further ado, let’s get to the ideas!

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Sims Winner Jerin Raby, and the host (and his 3D Printed bowtie).

AM2 Jerin Raby – Fleet Readiness Center Mid Atlantic, Detachment Patuxent River

*** Athena DC 2.0 Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage ***

Jerin presented her idea, which comes right from the “why aren’t we already doing this” file, with the clarity and expertise of an experienced Sailor well versed in the difficulties facing all aviation maintenance. Her proposal – to replace the oversized metallic toolboxes, used throughout Naval flight line maintenance, with lighter custom made backpacks – clearly struck the heartstrings of the crowd. As she reflected on her past experiences with the cumbersome toolboxes, you could see the expressions of many in the room as they recanted their own trials and difficulties using the outdated boxes.

The main focus of Jerin’s proposal was to help eliminate back problems and related injuries associated with lugging the tool boxes across flightiness and up and down ships’ ladderways. She explained the safety concerns and dangers the boxes pose to others as one makes their way through dark hallways. A secondary focus of her proposal was the benefits sailors having the use of both hands on the flight line and while traversing ships. Any maintainer could now have the use of both hands to keep them on their feet while traveling around the ship.

HM2 Joshua Cranford – Naval Hospital Annapolis

Joshua returned to the ATHENA DC, making him the only presenter to pitch ideas at both settings. As a reflection of his idea last year to increase mission readiness and cost savings by switching duty vehicles over to hydrogen power, this year he proposed taking the eco friendly hydrogen power and introducing it to the world of submariners. The extreme dedication to his mission, of a Navy powered by hydrogen power, shone as he walked the crowd through the pro’s and cons of having this alternative fuel powering the vessels of tomorrow.

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One of the crowd voters, and his soon-to-be-scored presentation grading sheet.

AE3 Jordan Brady – Fleet Readiness Center Mid Atlantic, Detachment Washington

Jordan knew after witnessing ATHENA DC 1.0 first hand, that he was going to bring an idea in 2017. His concept was  to use high powered lasers to aid sailors in the tedious task of corrosion removal. With corrosion being the number one enemy of any metal floating in the middle of the ocean, his idea spoke to both the surface and aviation members of the audience. Many of whom have undoubtedly spent many painstaking hours with needle guns and wire brushes keeping their vessels in the fight whether on the sea or in the air.

SSgt Alex Long – Ammunition Logistics Focus Team

Alex was the first Marine ever to bring an idea to an Athena event! His time working with munitions and weapons lead him to the startling discovery that humans are flawed. One individual manning a armory can hold up the operations of an entire unit. Alex’s solution was to automate the system through the use of robotics and digital accountability. His idea is not new to the logistics, but hasn’t found it’s rightful place in the world of weaponry in the Marine Corps, according to Alex.

AOAN Marissa Cross – Fleet Readiness Center Mid Atlantic, Detachment Patuxent River

Marissa finished the evening with a lifesaving bit of innovation. Her take on shipboard safety assisted any personal facing catastrophic conditions while potentially trapped within a ship. The problem: during true crisis at sea, vision is usually impaired making the glow-in-the-dark stickers (telling one their location in the ship) virtually unusable. Her solution: place 3D printed arrows throughout the ship directing sailors to the nearest point of exit. This allowed anyone who may find themselves visually impaired to tactually find their way to safety regardless of visibility.

In reflection, the authenticity of the evening’s setting combined with the passion of the presenters made for a night of true innovation. The ideas exchanged and connections made instilled an exhilarating air of electricity much needed in todays ever evolving military. The integration of two branches with the common goal of mission readiness will help set the pace for all future endeavors both here in the great United State of America, and abroad to wherever the mission may take us next.

AT1 Mike Pecota is an Aviation Electronics Technician /Assistant Innovation Team Lead for Fleet Readiness Center Mid Atlantic, Detachment Patuxent River. He’s also a driving force on the Additive Manufacturing Team and Innovation Cell at NAVAIR and the Admiral Sims Award winner from Athena DC 1.0.

Athena Far East 3.0 Is Coming!

By CDR Michele Day

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Athena Far East 3.0 is this Friday!

Athena is coming back to Japan!

This Friday, April 21st, Sailors from all around Seventh Fleet are bringing their ideas  to the Submarine Sanctuary from 1400-1600.

Have you heard about the Athena Project and wonder what it is all about?
Do you have a BIG idea to make your command or the Navy better?

This event is the third Yokosuka Chapter event for The Athena Project, and whether you have an idea and need a stage or have passion and want to connect with like-minded innovators trying to make change, Athena Far East 3.0 is the place for you!

The Athena Project was created onboard USS BENFOLD in 2012  and now has 12 Active Chapters from Yokosuka to Mayport, and many concepts from our events have gone on to prototyping and development.  The goal of Athena is to make the Navy better by developing solutions to problems that Sailors see in the Fleet – anything from developing new systems or retooling old systems,  to new training plans, to fixing “broken” programs.  By harnessing deckplate innovations and creating a cadre of forward-thinking, creatively confident Sailors, we are paving the way for the Fleet of tomorrow.

Named after the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Athena was a shrewd companion to heroes on epic endeavors. Which is why The Athena Project network works hard to help you push your great ideas forward. Because sometimes, that can be quite the epic endeavor.

We WANT you to join us – even if you just want to listen!

We WANT YOU TO PRESENT AN IDEA!  You can present as a team or by yourself.  The presentation materials and aids are also yours to decide – the  only rule is NO PowerPoint.

If you have an idea you want to present at ATHENA Far East, shoot us an e-mail athenanavy@gmail.com.

ATHENA belongs to YOU – COME MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

 

Athena DC 2.0 Is Coming!

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Are you going to Sea Air Space 2017 and looking for a way to connect with deckplate innovators across the Navy and Marine Corps? Are you in the DC area and want to check out what an Athena Project event is all about? Do you have a big idea that you want to pitch to connect with hard-charging folks who can make it happen?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then have we got a deal for you!

The Athena Project is hosting it’s second DC Chapter event during the Sea Air Space Expo at the Irish Whisper on Monday, April 3rd at 7PM!

Since early 2013, Athena pitch events have been a great way to connect to the Defense Innovation Network and hear (or pitch) some groundbreaking ideas to make things better! These events have come to be described as Shark Tank meets TED Talks and give grassroots innovators a voice by giving them the stage for five minutes to pitch their big ideas. After five minutes of Q&A from the audience and our esteemed panel, the crowd will vote on ideas based on Idea Quality, Actionability, and Presentation to crown the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage to the top concept.

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Presenters and Panelists from last year’s Athena DC 1.0 at Sea Air Space.

Last year’s winner was a game-changing sonar transducer cover, designed by our Sims Winner and 3D printable, that’s saving money and maintenance hours today. We’ll even get an update on its progress at the event!

The Athena Project has 12 Active Chapters from Yokosuka to Mayport, and many concepts from our events have gone on to prototyping and development. As an example, check out this concept that emerged from the Athena West Chapter that went on to win last year’s Innovation Jam on its way to improve surface ships’ gunnery!

There’s still time to slide into a presentation slot for Monday’s event if you’ve got a big idea that you want to see happen! Just send us a note at athenanavy@gmail.com if you want to present!

If you just want to come hear the pitches and network with like-minded catalysts, that’s cool too! Just swing by the Irish Whisper and join us! Registration always helps (you can do that here) or just come as you are and be part of the movement.

Let’s go fast.

 

2048… The Magic Number

By LCDR Kristen Wheeler

2048

Being a mobile gaming app addict, I came across one particular addictive game a couple months ago. “2048”, published by Ketchapp in app stores in 2014, is ridiculously easy to grasp while still providing a difficult challenge. The rules are simple… move the blocks horizontally or vertically to combine adjacent, like numbers until you reach 2048. For example, a block with the number “2” can only be combined with another block with the number “2” that is beside, above, or below it. When you combine two “2” blocks… you make a “4” block. Then you can push two “4” blocks together to make an “8” block, and then two “8” blocks together to make a “16” block… and so on and so forth… until you finally have created an opportunity to push two “1024” blocks together for the win. It’s not as easy as you think.

So take a second a download it. It’s free. The rest of the article might make a little more sense after you’ve played the game. If you become addicted, it’s not my fault.

After playing an embarrassing number of hours on this game (mostly never at work), it occurred to me that this game illustrates a fantastic strategy when it comes to scale and collaboration with respect to the multitude of emergent innovation efforts happening throughout the Navy and Marine Corps.

Over the last year I’ve been keeping a list of all the different innovation related ideas, projects, efforts, cells, and groups (of various maturity, sizes, scope, focus, audience, legitimacy, credibility, support, and funding) that have sprouted up throughout the Department of the Navy (and beyond). We have Secretary of the Navy’s Strategy and Innovation Department, Task Force Innovation (TFI), Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC), The Hatch, CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC), The Athena Project, Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF), DEFx, Tactical Advancement for Next Generation (TANG), Junior Enlisted Innovation Think Tank (JITT), Naval Innovation Network (NIN), MD5, MilSuite, Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), High Velocity Learning (HVL), TOOLKit, Cognitive Warrior Continuum, Illuminate, MMOWGLI, Junior Officer Symposium, Hacking 4 Defense, Hack the Sky, Hack the Machine, Innovation Certificate at NPS, USMC Wearable Challenge, PEO-EIS Innovation Cell, FabLabs, RoboDojo, Future Strategy Forum, Naval STEM, RDT&E Strategic Cell, and so much more.

In addition, there are a wide array of official and unofficial places that are publishing various innovation efforts which include (but certainly not limited to); SECNAV’s Strategy & Innovation, Athena Project, DEF, Atlantic Council, Naval Institute (website and Proceedings), Naval Science and Technology Future Force Magazine, War on the Rocks, Connecting the Dots, Military Writers Guild, CIMSEC, The Navalist, Defense One, and good ole Navy Times… just to name a few.

So what does this all of this have to do with “2048”? Over the last 14 months of watching super smart Sailors and DoN Civilians roll up their sleeves to implement their great idea, there is almost always that moment of defeat. The innovator stands at the edge of the cliff, overlooking a massive chasm, and wondering how on Earth they will ever be able to cross it and scale their idea into their biggest vision. “2048” could offer a solution to the ever growing multitude of emergent innovation efforts… we need to start combining.

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“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

What if groups that harvested Sailor’s ideas (2) were combined with research and development units (2) in an effort to build a true partnership (2+2) where Sailors ideas were systematically researched and funded each and every quarter (4)? Then what if one of the new innovation culture-based workshops (2) mated with an organizational metrics and collection team (2), thereby solidifying (2+2) as a quantifiable and adaptable learning program (4)? And then what if this new adaptable learning program (4), which exposed more Sailors to creative, cognitive, systems thinking mechanisms combined systematically researched Sailor’s ideas (4) to reinforce (4 +4) an inclusive systems approach to learning through real impact (8). There are a million other variables that we can continue to merge together.   The point is that when we combine our efforts, we become stronger. Dollars to ideas to education to collaboration opportunities to networks to organizational culture… what if we ask ourselves, how can I collaborate in such a way that both parties end up twice as strong in the end? And lest we forget the power of the media! By the time we are breaking barriers, we must share what we are doing so that others may gain insight and inspiration! A fusion of entertaining media (1024) and amazing advances brought about by radical collaboration (1024), only leads us to the ever coveted 2048.

Reflecting back on my time as a NIAC Fellow in FY16, one of the most valuable lessons I learned is that power and accomplishment comes from sustainable partnerships. No one can get their idea off the ground alone. It literally takes a village, or in our case, a Fleet. The only way we can scale and grow and instill the systemic culture changing behaviors (agility and adaptability being at the top of that list) in order to take ideas into meaningful realities is to combine efforts… and then perhaps 4096 will then be the new magic number.

 

Kristen Wheeler is the Executive Officer of the Navy Operational Support Center, San Jose. Before she was a NIAC Fellow, she founded The Athena Project’s Southeast chapter.

Athena Northwest 4.0 Preview

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The Athena Project NW will be holding their semi-annual pitch competition event at the LCPO Mess on base at Naval Base Kitsap on the 20th of January open to all (all active duty, DOD employees and retirees alike).

The Athena Project is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization seeking to foster and promote innovation within the Navy and DoD for the benefit of our sailors, dependents and nation as a whole. No idea is too big or small!

The event will be comprised of a guest speakers and focus on a pitch competition (in the format similar to ‘Shark Tank’ meets ‘TED Talk’ venue) where the ideas will be voiced and a winner will be selected base on feasibility, quality, novelty and actionability.

Come join us for a fun, energizing and exciting event where your ideas can be heard!

The pitch competition is open to the entire region. If you have an innovative idea you would like to present, please contact LT Daniel Conley at navyathenanw@gmail.com to submit your idea. Please submit pitches by the 13th of January to ensure inclusion. Free drinks will be provided for pitch presenters!

Location: Chief’s Mess (Below Sam Adams) at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, WA

Time: 1330-1500

Attire: Business casual

Register to Attend:  http://athenanws.eventbrite.com

Admission is free and open to anyone and everyone!

POC:     LT Daniel Conley

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Athena Monterey 1.0 Roundup

By LCDR Kristen Wheeler

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Monterey, California -truly a mecca for Naval Innovation – held its first Athena Project Pitch Event back in August at the London Bridge Pub. In a room with a view overlooking historic Monterey bay, six presenters from both Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute took the stage and brought their big ideas out into the light of day. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and academics from a myriad of backgrounds filled the room not only with their presence, but also their enthusiasm and curiosity.

CDR Andy Newsome, who brilliantly brought two massive commands together and then organized Athena Monterey 1.0, emceed the event. Volunteers from the audience pulled names out of the cup for the order of the presenters… and then were subsequently awarded an Athena Monterey 1.0 custom-designed coin which was 3D-printed at NPS’s Maker Space, Robo Dojo. The presenters then each had 5 minutes to present their idea and then another 5 minutes to answer audience questions.

The evening proved to be electric as compelling insights unfolded one right after another both from the presenters and those who came to support. Here is a quick encapsulation of the concepts presented.

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LT Todd Coursey (NPS) – Maker Box

Navy LT Todd Coursey, a heavyweight in the Navy’s additive manufacturing and Maker Space movement , started the evening off by capturing our attention by bringing in a box about twice the size of a large shoe box. His concept aimed at enabling senior officer and enlisted leadership exposure to advanced digital manufacturing and coding capabilities.   Todd said that this generation is growing up in an environment where digital capabilities have become democratized to the point where seven year olds in third world nations can be taught to create micro-controllers.  Curiosity piqued, he explained to the wide-eyed audience that this box is actually a portable additive manufacturing tool that has the potential to disrupt coding and digital manufacturing education easily and widely, opening up military and civilians to endless possibilities when coupled with a cohesive, creative, and cost-effective curriculum. By giving leaders a three to five day dose of the realm of the possible when it comes to current technology and how easy it is to employ.

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Maj. Nick AionaAka (NPS) – Leadership Reimagined

Nick AionaAka delivered Athena’s first Marine Corps pitch, bringing to the crowd a very relevant and timely idea that will flip collaboration and leadership shortfalls head over heels and into the future with wings. A big believer in organization culture as the root of all innovative commands, Nick offers that giving units or unrelated groups of DoD personnel take a tactical pause and step out of the forest so they can see the trees, could prove just the ticket to help us experience and discuss key pillars such as trust, communication, collaboration, connectedness, and other cultural nuances that are necessary for next generation ingenuity to thrive. But Nick also states that stepping out of the forest proverbially can happen by stepping in an actual forest. Getting back into nature and around a campfire are the best ways to remind ourselves that authentically connecting and learning from one another has a great deal of meaning when we are doing in our most simplest environments.

Peter Ateshian (NPS) – Femto Satellite Communications

NPS Professor Peter Ateshian left the audience in awe when he explained how Femto-Satellites could rewrite the books on how we communicate. With his son by his side, Peter brought a prototype of an actual size satellite… which was ridiculously small by the way… and passed it around the audience so we could truly understand just how disruptive and enhancing this technology could be. Not only can these miniature satellite carry a signal which provide timing and position, they work in our atmosphere, in space… and can float in the ocean. Lasting 6-8 weeks, the mini-sats cost a meager $30 a pop and the capabilities that can be provided are absolutely endless.

Cpt Sarah Martin (DLI) – Aptitude Targeting

Over from Defense Language School, Army CPT Sarah Martin followed up next and presented a solution set that could increase effective recruiting of amazing foreign language instructors – The “Unicorns.” Finding exceptional language instructors at DLI is no easy task… hunting needles in haystacks, especially for obscure languages. Sarah believes we can not only find a wider selection of instructor candidates to teach our Sailors, Soldiers, Airman and Marines, but they can be found with lesser manpower… simply by harnessing the power of social media. Using sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… even Snapchat and Instagram can be used to reach specific audiences… namely language instructors in this case. By capitalizing on public demographic information that users provide to social media sites, DLI can include this into their marketing and recruiting strategies. Targeting ads through Facebook, for example, can cost very little… as much as $0.24 a click… sometimes event less. And without being invasive, it allows people who possess the skillsets needed to teach a language to find out about employment opportunities at DLI they might not have otherwise known about. Sarah’s idea wowed the audience as she was peppered with questions and idea riffs following her presentation.

CPO John-Mark Allen (DLI) – Realizing the Paperless Navy

Chief John-Mark Allen stirred the crowd by asking anew the question every person in the Department of Defense has pondered at some point… What ever happened to the notion of a paperless Navy? His question was has been asked for over 18 years now since it was first proposed in 1998. And though there are some places where we have gone paperless, for example using NSIPS to route leave documents, we still have no shortage of blue and red folders plaguing commands. Breaking the old paradigm requires a culture shift, and Chief Allen proposes posing an internal “tax” on paper and toner. By increasing the price of paper and toner, commands will be pushed to adopt to myriad of other solutions for electronically routing documents.

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LT Jesse Iwuji (NPS)– NASCAR Recruiting
**Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage**

Our last presenter, LT Jesse Iwuji, immediately captured the audiences undivided attention by taking the stage in his NASCAR racing gear. As it turns out, we have within our Navy ranks a bonafide NASCAR driver… and one of two African American drivers in the circuits. When he’s not the Director of Student Services at NPS, Jesse hits the track. Jesse proposed using his influence within the NASCAR racing fan base to promote and recruit for the Navy. Because he is the only active duty driver and a minority on the circuit, Jesse attracts the camera nearly every single race. He garners an average of $1.5 million dollars worth of airtime, which is actively promotes the Navy because he’s a proud Surface Warfare Officer. However, there is more potential. The Navy could easily capture an even bigger ROI by being the only service in history to sponsor a car driven not only by their own service member, but an active duty one at that. It’s a no brainer… which is why Jesse won the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage.

Plans for Athena Monterey 2.0 and updates on our presenters coming soon… so stay tuned!

Athena East 3.0 Roundup

The Athena Project returned to the Norfolk area for the third installment, accompanied by terrific weather and a great audience for an out outdoor event. The event was held at the River Stone Chophouse in Suffolk, VA on October 19 at 1800

The presenters pitched ideas to an audience charged with excitement and an illustrious panel including CAPT Heritage, CAPT Kiss, and ONR Science Advisor Mr. Blakely. All 7 of the projects struck a chord with those in attendance, stirring conversations on how to improve things.

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The Audience Assembles on an Evening Perfect for an Outdoor Setting.

CPO Rory Satnik – Hydrophobic Coating on Sonar Arrays
**Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage**


CPO Satnik proposed coating Sonar Arrays for increased performance. He proposed coating current Navy towed SONAR arrays with a superhydrophobic coating and thereby reducing the drag coefficient of the array and gaining what is referred to in SONAR as crucial decibels (dB) in an effort to increase our opportunity for detecting contacts of interest.

He also proposed coordinating a ships entry into a dry dock maintenance period as an opportunity to coat the hull mounted SONAR array with the same hydrophobic coating.  Terrific idea!

Admiral Sims Winner

Rory drives the point home.

PO2 Brenden Hebert NCDOC – Cross Organization Red Teaming for Navy


Recent Cyber related incidents have taken place on legacy or extraneous networks where our ability to oversee or act is limited due to the lack coverage and understanding. An example of this would be the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach of 2015 or a site such as the MWR, which may lay outside of our visibility spectrum. PO2 Hebert proposed the organization of a team or teams who have the responsibility of mapping, documenting, and hardening these potential vulnerabilities. The Navy currently implements some of these items through “Red Teams”, however the scope of these teams is primarily focused on our primary assets such as commands or ships. His proposal included a much more thorough understanding of these spaces to increase coverage and visibility. According to PO2, as it stands we have a incomplete view of the battle space that is the cyber world; more importantly the lack of information is represented in our own interests and assets. Without having proper knowledge of our own systems, cyber defense is much harder, enemies might exploit backdoors that we don’t have visibility on. This poses a potential risk to the DoD at large as seen again with the OPM breach last year.

LTJG Kindervater USS RHODE ISLAND – Shipyard Casualty Response Tracking (SCRT)


LTJG Kindervater discussed a prototype of a device he built to provide Rapid personnel identification via RFID. The system featured plug-in power with battery backup to ensure system continuity, real-Time tracking to facilitate relief preparation, flexibility to assign placeholder names for personnel external to the command, and data logging to allow post-casualty event reconstruction.
This tool was developed due to the large number of potential responders to shipboard casualties. He believes a system that rapidly and accurately tracks ship’s force personnel responding to emergencies onboard the ship is required. Difficulties lie in distinguishing personnel in full-body firefighting ensembles and tracking stay times of firefighting teams in-hull. Based on his personal experience, existing methods require coordination between the staging area and supervisory location, which places unnecessary strain on DC Central supervisors. His concept rapidly identifies personnel, tracks firefighting team assignments and stay times, and provides the flexibility to augment ship’s force with personnel from neighboring vessels and firefighting units. By providing an up-to-date picture of deployed manpower, it eases strain on the supervisory element of casualty response, enabling more critical assessment of other casualty data.

Shark Panel

The Shark Panel Listening Intently

PO3 Brady Jordan FRCMA Washington – Clean Laser Preservation System

PO3 Jordon explained his innovative idea to replace the fleets abrasive blasting methods with a clean laser system. He explained the reduction of cost, man hours, and hazardous waste that would result in its use. He provided figures to convince the audience that this was something the Navy should attempt. The following link is what PO3 Jordan has in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSP1vH7-t7s

PO2 Teal USS RHODE ISLAND – Navy Exam Hub

Petty Officer Teal presented a Exam Hub database that he was working on. The Exam Hub program includes all relevant data for exams, their questions, and all personnel that have taken an exam or answered a question. The database contains five main data tables with a separate data table for every question and person for its history. Exams for any rate or watch station can be generated by topic, watchstation, rate, and difficulty level at the click of a button. It included personnel question history to provide training recommendations and show weak areas. It had an easy method to input questions into database that will be stored indefinitely in a secure database. It also featured easy integration with graphical libraries to provide visual feedback to include trend graphs, distributions, and any other visual feedback that is desired. This idea was deemed relevant and useful because of training administrative difficulties that arise on every ship specifically based on exam approval time.

LT Peoples USS RHODE ISLAND (Enhanced Force Protection Training in Shipyards

*Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage 1st Runner Up*


LT Peoples demonstrated the creative method he has developed to train his Sailors without access to resources available to him in the past. He explained ideas that he would like to employ, but needed some help from the enterprise to fully realize. Specifically, ships in naval shipyards are in a position where they cannot easily exercise their skills on their own ship. To provide for a more realistic approach that doesn’t require the Sailor to attend external schooling he proposed using decommissioned ships in the shipyard as a training ground for security forces. The training would involve airsoft style training weapons to put Sailors in simulated situations where they are able to demonstrate and reinforce previous training. He would have the armed watchstanders to respond to a threat in a simulated live fire environment where if they fail to use good judgment/tactics they will receive immediate tactile feedback. His training would use existing areas and only require an initial investment for purchase of the weapons and supporting material, as well as a small maintenance fee to keep up consumable stock. This training could be controlled by the command and be worked into existing schedules as to maximize shipboard participation and enhance the security forces.

LTJG McGough NNWC – Software as a Service for Naval Networks


LTJG McGough presented a proposal for the creation of a Navy Digital Service – a Navy component to the Defense Digital Service that will develop and maintain software-as-a-service to meet the Navy’s unique requirements. He wanted to change the Navy’s model of a one time purchase of software to a continuous development cycle more in line with the commercial software industry. LTJG McGough’s proposal was very insightful and forward thinking.

Event Host

A Huge Thanks to Adam for Putting Together Such a Great Event!


All-in-all a great group of presenters showed up and delivered their pitches to an enthusiastic audience. The night was an amazing opportunity to facilitate discussion and encourage out of the box thinking. Based on the audience and the presenter’s conversations I wouldn’t be surprised to see all of these ideas implemented in some form in the near future.

Find us on Facebook or Twitter (@athenanavy) or e-mail us at athenanavy@gmail.com!

Athena East 3.0: One Week Away!

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Greetings, Athenians! We hope you’re as excited as we are for the upcoming Athena East 3.0 pitch event that’s a week from today!

The event will be at the River Stone Chophouse in Suffolk, VA on October 19th at 1800. You can register to attend right here.

Our Athena pitch events provide a venue for Sailors and DoD employees to present their big ideas to make their organization or the Navy better. Selected presenters will have five minutes to present their idea and then five additional minutes to field questions from the crowd and the assembled panel of leaders. At the end of all pitches, the crowd will vote on the concepts based on impact, actionability and presentation to award the top concept the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage.

The Purpose of Athena East 3.0 is to connect Sailors with ideas to an audience of professionals from the military, academia, industry, and the community who are supportive of military problem solving and problem ownership.  We want to develop a cadre of forward-thinking, creatively confident Sailors for the Fleet of tomorrow and build a diverse, supportive network to help them move forward.  Build a sense of problem ownership, where a Sailor sees a problem and develops a solution, and presents to leadership to get specific support. Athena East 3.0 is an informal gathering to hear, support, and celebrate Service-members and/or DoD civilians acting on their passion to improve their unit or service.For more on how Athena works and some of our past events, check out our roundup articles while you’re here on the blog!

There’s still time if you’re interested in presenting! The window to submit concepts is open, and if you’re interested, e-mail our Athena East Chapter lead at vakahnke@gmail.com with a brief summary your idea. The selection of the 5-6 presenters will be made on Sunday!

As an added bonus for this Athena event, registered attendees will have special access to the Submarine Information Exchange Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) technology expo at the Lockheed Martin Lighthouse  prior to the event. Come by and check out the fantastic technology companies that are inspiring the TANG workshop participants before heading over to the Chophouse!

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!