Athena West Waterfront 10 Roundup

By: LCDR Mark Blaszczyk

Welcome to the long awaited wrap-up for Athena West’s Waterfront 10.  At the end of June we hosted another outstanding event, Waterfront 10 at 32 North Brewing Company.  We listened to five great ideas in a very cozy atmosphere thanks to the outstanding questions and solid discussions of each idea by the audience.  Thank you to everyone who had the courage to present and came out to the event.  I’m always impressed by the ideas presented at our events and Waterfront 10 was no different.  Look for our next event in San Diego later this year.

Without further ado, the winner of the ADM Simms Award for Innovation for Waterfront Athena 10 and gift certificate from MakerPlace:

“Correlated Magnets” by LT Isaac Wang

Stumbling on these magnets while working on a separate product, LT Wang immediately saw the potential uses for the Navy.  Conventional magnets create a magnetic field with a North & South pole on opposing ends creating the attractive and repelling forces most people are familiar with. Scientists have figured out how to use software magnetizers to program a magnet to have a specific behavior that differs from traditional magnets.  Magnets can now be programmed to have N & S poles on the same side and in different arrangements to customize behaviors.  Correlated magnets can be programmed to repel and attract at different distances from each other.   They can have small magnetic fields that don’t interact with nearby electronics or have precise alignment not offered by normal magnets.

LT Wang brought with him a of these few magnet pairs to demonstrate their unique capabilities, which I will add were very cool to play with.  He described some potential uses for these magnets.   Example 1: Reducing the risk of pinch points in different equipment such with raising and lowering of small boats on surface ships.  Example 2: Significantly reduce drilling and welding on ships by replacing nuts, bolts, and screws with correlated magnets that can keep equipment in place without even having physical contact.  Example 3: UNREP and Pulling Alongside a Pier, reducing the potential risk of hull contact on piers.
In addition to winning the ADM Simms Award, LT Wang won a gift certificate to MakerPlace so he can further develop his idea into a working prototype.

Runner-Up: “RMV Replacement” by MN2 Alexander Paramo

After seeing the challenges facing the remote minehunting vehicle (RMV), “I figured I would try to out-do Lockheed,” MN2 Paramo said during his presentation.  Using only off the shelf equipment, he figured he could create a cheap but reliable replacement.

Using a Raspberry Pi 2B for the brains and 6 bilge pumps for propulsion, he is able to create a prototype for around $370. He acknowledges that for the true military use he would have to upgrade parts but he thinks it will still cost far less than than a single RMV which runs in the millions.

We look forward to his continued development and am excited to see his working prototype in the near future.

“Start a PRODEV Circle” by CDR Emily Bassett

Mentoring in any organization or service is always a challenge.  Creating an environment where you can ask questions and have conversation without fear of reprisal or judgement is difficult to foster.  The Navy has tried to create this through multiple mentoring programs but has yet to succeed.  CDR Bassett presented a solution  that helps to solve this problem.  Called the PRODEV circle and modeled on Lean in Circles, it is a group meeting to discuss topics and continue to grow as individuals.  This group is free from the constraints of their command to provide a place to address topics with two simple ground rules, the discussion will be confidential and no advice given.  CDR Bassett has already established some groups and has been encouraged by its’ results and hopes to see it to continue to grow.  If you’d like to find out more information you can email LeanInNWC@gmail.com.

“Block-Chain authentication for publications and a common web portal” by MN1 Brian Neal

An idea near and dear to anyone who has had to develop an instruction or gone through an inspection in the Navy, MN1 Neal presented an idea to deal with the challenges of making sure you have the right instruction.

Every year numerous instructions, publications, and other written documents go through revisions.  For inspections and even day to day operations, it’s required that you use the most current instruction.  MN1 Neal’s idea is to use block-chain authentication, the same encryption method utilized by Bitcoin, to assure the user that they have the most current instruction.  Essentially every time a document is edited it will track who and when the document was edited and permanently encode it into the document.  This would allow end users to know positively that they have the current validated version of any document no matter where they got it from.  Additionally, coupling this with a central location for all publications, instructions, directives, etc would simplify the challenges to the fleet in verifying they have the right instruction all the time.

“Arctic SWARRIORs” by LT Takeru Tajiri

As a result of global climate changes, the Northern seas will become increasingly accessible to ships and submarines. At the moment, there are multiple competing claims of ownership of these waters, primarily between Canada and Russia, although others are inclined to regard the Arctic waters as “common heritage.” This has not been problematic in the past since the waters were largely inaccessible and therefore irrelevant. That will change–maybe not soon, but eventually.  If we are to maintain the status quo in these waters 10-20 years from now, we will need to be able to operate in them.

The Coast Guard routinely operates icebreakers in the Arctic waters; however, FONOPS are not the domain of the USCG. LT Tajiri proposes that we begin sending a number of committed second-tour division officers to serve on USCG ships which operate in the Arctic/Antarctic regions, so that far into the future we will have a pool of surface line officers who understand the requirements when operating at extreme latitudes (problems like gyro drift, no reliable magnetic compass, icebergs, freezing equipment, cold injuries, sensor ranges, etc). We have manuals for cold weather operations, but these are no substitute for practical experience.

Thanks again to 32 North Brewing Company for hosting another event and to Makerplace for generously donating a prize for the winner.  You can check them out here:

32 North Brewing: http://www.32northbrew.com/
MakerPlace: http://makerplace.com/
LCDR Mark Blaszczyk is the Combat Systems Training Lead in Commander Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One and the co-lead for The Athena Project’s San Diego chapter.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a BS in Civil Engineering and Duke University with a Masters in Business Administration.

There are loads of Athena Events coming up! If you’re in the San Diego, Groton or Yokosuka areas, connect with us if you want to be a part of our upcoming events! Connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenanavy or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail athenanavy@gmail.com!

Our next event:

-Monterey 1.0:  August 25th 6-9pm at London Bridge Pub.  (256 Figueroa St, Monterey, CA 93940)

Athena DC 1.0 Roundup

By LT George Yacus

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Hi everyone, Kilt here!  Long time listener, but first time contributor here on The Athena Project.

Athena DC 1.0 — what a success on so many frontsincluding the beautiful Potomac waterfront!

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Yes, I have to talk about location and timing!  

Riding on the evening coattails of the local 2016 SEA  AIR SPACE expo Monday night gave Athenians several great benefits for this inaugural session, including:

  • An absolutely marvelous conference center snuggled in Maryland’s growing National Harbor on the beautiful Potomac (with access to adult beverages during the session if desired)
  • A great showing of inquisitive participants from the Navy League’s Global Maritime Exposition, and
  • Closer access to the refreshing Navy leadership who live on the fringes of our nation’s capital.

VADM Phil Cullom, Dr. Larry Schuette, Dr. Ralph Semmel, and Sharon Beermann-Curtin each took time out of their busy schedules–and maybe even missed a meeting or two–just so they could support our five Athena idea warriors as panelists.  What a testament to their commitment in making innovation a priority for action and engagement!

INTRODUCTION

The session kicked off with Dave Nobles as our jovial Master of Ceremonies, sharing the history of Athena–which has held about 20 events so far and has become a beacon of success for Naval innovation.  He also shared with us the concept behind  Athena’s snazzy new logo.

Indeed, as Dave said, The Athena Project has become the “Bat Signal” for Naval innovation success.  

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Only in this case, there is no “super hero” coming to the Navy’s rescue here in our nation’s capital city, which is normally known for legislative sausage-making, 15 year defense acquisition cycles, and risk-averse policy decisions from whom VADM Cullom likes to call “The Borg”.

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Acquisitions? Make it slow.

Instead, our heroes are diverse individuals just like you, who are not satisfied with assimilation into a sub par status quo!  Instead, you are folks who exhibit our Navy’s core values with intellectual honor, courage, and commitment.  You are willing to get an idea, run with it, and make it into a reality.

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INSPIRATION!

After Dave got us going, our five presenters and audience gained encouragement from the ideation powerhouse that is FRCMA (Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic).  

“Our command actually fosters innovation…from concept to culture.” said one of the guest speakers, ATC Williams from FRCMA, who was “blown away by communication between juniors and seniors” evident at his command, which has not one but two ideation think tanks that meet every other week, and also has systems in place where anyone can share their creative ideas.   

Chief Williams and the FRCMA team shared nearly a dozen ideas and processes they’ve developed and implemented in the realm of Navy innovation, which he describes as “taking what’s out there, and using it in a new and exciting way.”  

As a result, their work has spread from FRCs at Oceana and Norfolk to PAX River, New Orleans, and Washington.

But don’t let FRCMA’s success make you think that innovation comes easy, as we all know

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FOD Prevention? Make it glow.

ideation success takes leadership, hard work, and commitment.  Take for example LT Jason Shaw, who has spent ten years developing and then navigating funding and contract waters for his (literally) bright idea, which helps aviation maintenance personnel avoid FOD hazards (back to that theme in a second).  Or consider AD2 Shepard’s ongoing work to develop a better cranial that fits comfortably, doesn’t save up sweat, and requires fewer parts.

Our Athena idea warriors thus gained inspiration from those who have gone before us, knowing that their–and your–ideas, can literally the save the Navy time, money, and more importantly, save the lives of our fellow warfighters.

So regardless of whether or not our idea presenters’ concepts are implemented now, or even a decade from now as they battle “The Borg” or as some of us like to say, the “Frozen

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Innovation? Let it go.

 

Middle”, who just want to let good ideas go away, we’re thankful for all of our attendees’ presence, patience, and persistence, and we’re especially grateful to the Chains of Command that support ideators like them being able to attend!

 

 

DC 1.0 ATHENIANS

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Our Athenians and our Panel from Athena DC 1.0!  (U.S. Navy Photo by John F. Williams)

AT1 MICHAEL PECOTA OF FRCMA DET PAX RIVER: SONAR TRANSDUCER COVER

At the end of AT1 Michael Pecota’s presentation, I think our esteemed panelist ONR Research Director Dr. Larry Schuette put it best:

“Does anyone else think it’s crazy that we don’t already have it capped!?”

AT1 Pecota’s winning idea is a $10 3D printed solution to a $2,000,000 problem.  And that problem is one near and dear to every aircrew and aviation maintenanceman’s heart: FOD…Foreign Object Damage.  The MH-60R (our favorite sub-hunting organic maritime helo) carries a very complex $2M sonar transducer to detect and track lurking submarines.  Unfortunately, when debris makes its way into the transducer, it takes our aviation electronics technicians and maintenance personnel a full hour just to take the cover off and clean house inside the transducer.  By reducing FOD through prevention, AT1 Pecota’s sonar transducer cover can save the Navy upwards of 1708 man hours a year, equivalent to $76,000 back in the Pentagon’s budget.  Sounds great!  Unless you are an enemy submariner, am I right?  His simple solution for a sonar transducer cap earned him the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage.  

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AT1 Pecota receives the Admiral Sims Award from VADM Cullom. (U.S. Navy Photo by John F. Williams)

[Note, if you are an MH-60R bubba, looking to get one of these caps for your transducer, reach out and we’ll connect you with AT1 Pecota.  Let’s print these FOD-preventing bad-boys!]

LT JAMES LANDRETH OF NAVAL NUCLEAR POWER TRAINING UNIT, CHARLESTON SC: ADAPTIVE TESTING WITH MINERVA…THE ORACLE SUITE

Our second briefer carried the Athena torch with the mythology theme (woohoo!) LT James Landreth and his team pitched their innovative training/testing program “Minerva”, named after the Roman goddess of wisdom, art, Nuclear Power, school, etc.  

Their team sees wide possibilities with the Navy Computerized Adaptive Test system, enabling them to predict with 85% accuracy a student’s success, generate customized or individualized training regimes, provide command leadership data-supported feedback on training systems, and help students avoid test failure.  Nice!

LT DANIEL WALKER OF NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND: AUGMENTED REALITY BRIDGE

Collisions at sea.  They happen.  I wish they didn’t.  LT Walker wants to make them stop happening.  LT Dan wants every ship to keep their sea legs.

As a former CRIC-ster, he is the project lead for OCEAN AUGMENTED REALITY.  The idea is to take all the great sensors and information we have available on a bridge: map data, radar contact information, depth charts, etc., and synthesize it and present it to our watchstanders through augmented reality glasses to reduce collisions.  LT Walker’s project came in second place at Athena DC 1.0.  What an exciting challenge!

LT TAKERU TAJIRI OF  LCS CREW 104: E-SIGNALMAN

This is the idea that made it difficult for me to get to sleep last night!

It doesn’t take an engineer to realize that our electromagnetic spectrum is becoming more and more crowded and contested.  Just ask LT Takeru Tajiri, a Poli-Sci major from the Juggernauts of LCS Crew 104 who wants to breathe new life into an old concept like Morse code by addressing how we communicate when all the radios are jammed, or when EMCON (emissions control) conditions have been established.  The idea is to shift over to the shorter wavelengths on the EM spectrum, using visible light, infrared and/or laser, to send communication data from ship to ship or aircraft, and potentially relay data via unmanned vehicles/balloons to go over the horizon.

I really want to see all the tinkerers out there in the Navy come together and rally around this one, because I just KNOW that some sailors (including midshipmen) out there can design and build this one in a weekend or two!  Who is with me?  Let’s do it!

HM2 JOSHUA CRANFORD OF ANNAPOLIS NAVAL HOSPITAL: PROJECT WATER ENGINE

Our final presenter of the evening had me chuckling as he started with a great pun about sourcing energy and electrical current from water in the form of hydrogen.

HM2 Joshua Cranford is ready for the Navy to lead the way in green energy!  Taking inspiration from the SECNAV’s Great Green Fleet initiative, HM2 wants to transition to H2… using hydrogen gas as a safer, climate friendly, and some day cost effective alternative fuel source to fossil fuels.  Citing many recent trends, including successful projects from the University of West Virginia, HM2 Cranford encouraged us to take the long look for sustainability in how we power our Fleet.  His presentation, while cut a little short due to timing, was still a gas!

CONCLUSION

Wow, what a night!  In the end VADM Cullom tied it all together by spotlighting the strategic link between deckplate ideation, and Design for Maritime Superiority released by the Chief of Naval Operations. Specifically, he cited the line of effort regarding High Velocity Learning.  He also explained that he wants to see Athena spread to every fleet concentration area.

“I have been in awe of what Athena has done…”

-VADM Phil Cullom (OPNAV N4)

We’re so thankful for our presenters for having the courage to share their ideas.  How exciting it is that we can have sailors from all across the US come and meet together to make positive change in our Navy.  Even though this was the first Athena event in DC, I’d say the “Bat Signal” is shining brightly here.  Again, we must thank the leadership who have helped empower deckplate thinkers.

In conclusion, for some, it has been a 10 year journey to get here!  And for others, it was just a few minutes of traffic around the DC Beltway.  But regardless of whether you are an idea creator or an idea catalyst, newcomer or serial thinker, wherever you are in the realm of Naval innovation, remember, as VADM Cullom said this evening about The Athena Project…

This is your forum!”

 

LT George Yacus is an MH-60S helo bubba, currently on shore duty to USNA at the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence, where he provides communication and outreach for student academic support services, including training midshipmen in collaborative learning techniques, speed reading, time management, and more.  In his free time he connects with other creative thinkers around the Yard and Fleet, and he is always looking to find ways to introduce innovation communities to midshipmen, faculty, and staff, and especially the aviation community at USNA.

There are Athena events coming soon to fleet concentration areas around the globe, so if you’re in Mayport, San Diego, Yokosuka and Norfolk – get ready! If you’re interested in starting a movement of your own, find us on Facebook or Twitter (@athenanavy) or e-mail us at athenanavy@gmail.com!

Athena DC 1.0 – Right Around The Corner!

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We’re less than a week away from Athena DC 1.0 at Sea Air Space, and we’re excited to bring forth some tremendous ideas from around the fleet!

At 7:00 PM on Monday, May 16th in the Potomac Room C at the Gaylord National Convention Center, we’ll have six Sailors pitching their great ideas to make the Navy better in front of the assembled crowd as well as a panel of four esteemed thought leaders in the innovation space.

The panelists will provide a great perspective to each presenter, bringing forth their wealth of knowledge to give insightful feedback after each presentation. VADM Phil Cullom, OPNAV N4; Dr. Ralph Semmel, Director of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Dr. Larry Schuette, Director of Research at the Office of Naval Research; and Sharon Beermann-Curtin, Deputy Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office join our team for the night to help propel these projects further.

Our presenters, in alphabetical order, are HM2 Joshua Cranford of the Annapolis Naval Hospital, MA2 Edward Glospie of NSF Lakehurst at Fort Dix, LT James Landreth of the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, AT1 Michael Pecota of FRCMA Detachment Patuxent River, LT Takeru Tajiri of LCS Crew 104, and LT Daniel Walker of Naval Supply Systems Command.

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The Gaylord National Convention Center – Ground Zero for Athena DC 1.0 on Monday. Come by! It’s FREE!

These six presenters were selected by the Athena National Council from an incredibly impressive group of submissions. For those not selected this time around, fear not: There will be loads of opportunities to get your great ideas on stage in the future.

In addition to our presenters, we’ll have a past Athenian at the event to share his innovation success story with the crowd. While the awesome things that people have done in the realm of Department of Defense innovation often inspire us, our team is especially excited to give the stage to LT Jason Shaw to share his stories with the group. LT Shaw, a participant at Athena East 1.0, will be sharing his story of innovation at his command and a funded project that he’s brought to life.

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The scene at Athena West 4.0 in San Diego. We’re excited to add new Athenians into our midst!

For those unfamiliar with The Athena Project, here’s how the event works: presenters will have five minutes to present their idea. After the pitch, the panel will provide brief feedback to the presenter, which will be followed by five minutes of question and answer from the crowd. Once the Q&A is complete, the crowd will vote on the concept, grading the idea on three criteria: Idea quality, Actionability, and Presentation. Once all our Athenians have pitched their concepts, our team will calculate votes in order to determine the winner of the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage, which earns the lucky presenter the power of the Athena network to turn their idea into reality.

For all the fellow innovators in the region, admission to Sea Air Space, as well as Athena DC 1.0 is free, so we hope to have a great turnout to support the three officers and three enlisted Sailors that have demonstrated the intellectual courage to share their big ideas. Remember: No uniforms necessary – this is a casual event that’s open to all!

Looking forward to a great time on Monday night! See you there!

ATHENA Silicon Valley 1.0 Roundup

It’s little wonder we struck gold with the ideas sourced from service-members working in Silicon Valley, both active and reserve.  The first event was a hit – some of the most impactful and actionable ideas wrapped into a single event so far.

Gail Kirk

MA1 Gail Kirk stealing the show

*** ATHENA Silicon Valley 1.0 Admiral Sims Winner ***

Tactical Vests and Diversity Implications – MA1 Gail Kirk, San Jose NOSC

MA1 Gail Kirk has extensive experience in law enforcement and force protection as well as public speaking, and it showed!  She captivated the audience with her pitch, communicating the value of diversity by properly equipping females with tactical bullet proof vests designed with a female’s body in mind.  Citing several serious problems with the current “one-size fits all” approach that the Navy has undertaken with tactical gear, she explained how the both the Army and the Marines adapted tactical gear for females, calling out the instructions that require Navy women to wear the same gear as men.  This is a simple matter of policy that should be adopted directly from the Army’s lessons learned in procuring tactical vests that fit properly.  At the end of the Q&A session, we learned that an audience member already drafted and sent an email to the Navy’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.   We expect that this issue will be resolved soon, and the audience showed their approval by selecting her as the winner of the Admiral Sim’s Award for Intellectual Courage!

Josh Steinman

LT Josh Steinman Fielding Questions

 Sneaks vs. Geeks – LT Josh Steinman, NOSC San Jose / DIUx

LT Josh Steinman was the runner up to the Admiral Sims Award and finished off the event by describing an exercise in tactical agility.  His concept, named Sneaks vs. Geeks, would be a challenge in which conventional troops or special forces were pit against unconventional “super nerds” leveraging hacking skills and commercial technologies to achieve the same objectives.  The exercise would be a great way to engage Silicon Valley experts in a fun and thought provoking scenario guaranteed to challenge conventional approaches to accomplishing military objectives.  Lessons he hopes to capture from the exercise include how to counter the unconventional strategies or how to adopt them.  Josh already garnered some buy-in for his concept and is looking for help in implementation.  During his Q&A time, the crowd identified three potential ranges to facilitate the event. He’s well on his way to making some magic happen!

Jacob Smitely

GM1 Jacob Smitely with a video demo

 From Gaming to Training in Virtual Environments – GM1 Jacob Smitely, San Jose NOSC

GM1 Jacob Smitely followed with a very compelling pitch of his own.  Jacob possesses a special skill as gamer.  His understanding of gaming systems goes deep into the development, underlying structures, and interfaces of high fidelity multi-player gaming environments.  He pitched the concept of using modern games to create virtual training environments.  He showed the audience how some games allow users to modify and create content and that there are games already containing user generated models of naval platforms that possessing surprising fidelity.  His vision is to combine the training experts in the afloat training group with some game experts to set up a few scenarios that would accomplish a number of learning objectives.  Jacob’s concept took third place overall and was promised additional opportunities for his idea to be vetted pending his generation of a white paper that can be circulated to potential sponsors.

Tony Schumacher

Major Tony Schumacher pitches novel use of 360 video

 Tech to the Troops – Maj. Tony Schumacher, DIUx

Major Tony Schumacher, an Air Force reservist recalled to active duty to work within the Air Force element of DIUx, kicked off the event with a plan to integrate cutting edge 360 video and virtual reality technology. This technology would provide deployed troops the opportunity to experience important events that they missed while on deployment, which was previously unavailable. Tony offered one scenario in which one could rent a 360 degree field-of-view camera from MWR and bring it to a wedding or birthday. The video would be stored on a hard drive and uploaded into a cloud environment, where the service member could view the event through a virtual reality headset while being fully immersed in the experience he or she missed while deployed (and without internet connectivity). Giving the service members the opportunity to rent and play with this innovative technology could help them feel closer to loved ones while also familiarizing them with the art of the possible. Ideas for other applications in the work environment would naturally follow. Tony shared that he is planning to further explore this idea as he enters Stanford’s Ignite program.

Michelle Mehrayin

HM3 Michelle Mehrayin breaking open possibilities in mobile technology for military users

Mobile Information Sharing Application – HM3 Michelle Mehrayin, San Jose NOSC

HM3 Michelle Mehrayin proposed an idea to develop a mobile, Twitter-style, communications application for military users.  In her reserve duties, Michelle is a Hospital Corpsman while in her civilian life she is a software developer with a master’s degree in software engineering.  Details provided in her pitch demonstrated that she possess both the skill and the desire to help get this idea through initial prototyping and she has the technical knowledge to map many of the requirements required for full implementation.  Before leaving for the evening she had an offer to connect with developers at SPAWAR Systems Command Pacific, who developed a similar application called FUSION that resides within the labs and behind CAC authentication.  FUSION is in need of a mobile instantiation while Michelle is in need of some technical experts with whom to collaborate – looking forward to where they can go together!

Brian Grubbs

CDR Brian Grubbs pitching an idea enabling a data savvy workforce

 A Path to Creating a Data Savvy Workforce – CDR Brian Grubbs, NOSC Alameda

CDR Brian Grubbs pitched a pathway to a data savvy workforce by taking a simple, executable step: include an entry level data management course as a portion of basic training for both enlisted personnel and officers.  Brian highlighted several examples of how appropriately formatting data in Excel facilitates much stronger analytics.  He expertly summed up the importance of composing data sets by sharing a couple of instances where he was able to demonstrate predictable behavior through data analysis, exposing unseen weaknesses that an enemy could leverage against us.  If we are serious about becoming a learning organization, we must first learn how to better manage data to extract valuable insights.

Networking

Always a great time building connections!

In summary, we observed that all the ideas presented were very much aligned with strategies currently being pushed out by senior leadership.

  • Gail provided an actionable approach to encourage diversity,
  • Tony’s concept promoted a broader understanding of cutting edge technology
  • Josh hit a chord with DIUx’s core mission to engage Silicon Valley and build productive relationships
  • Michelle’s concept fit well under a drive to better utilize mobile devices
  • Jacob cast a vision to leverage virtual environments in a low cost way – touching on a Task Force for Innovation (TFI) Initiative
  • Brian’s concept to create a data savvy workforce aligned with a memo recently signed by the SECNAV

Whether or not these ideas see full implementation or partial implementation, they will continue to shape the conversations surrounding these important topics to the DoD. ATHENA Silicon Valley was a terrific event and we would like to extend a big “thank you” to all the presenters who had the courage to take a stand.

Announcing ATHENA DC 1.0!

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Athena has just Leveled Up!

Welcome to the next level of grassroots innovation, where we join forces with internal champions and external contributors in our most meaningful way yet.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to engage in the cutting edge of integration between generations of movers and shakers in the Military and the most advanced industrial and academic support.  

Athena is seeking energetic, inspired, and forward-leaning intrapreneurs on a quest for organizational change to pitch at our  inaugural Athena DC event, in partnership with the Navy League, at the 2016 Sea Air Space Exposition.  

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Bringing together the wisdom and empowerment senior leadership, diverse talent of thought leaders from industry and acedemia, and a cadre of deckplate innovators, this will be an event you won’t want to miss.  Presenters will have the opportunity to pitch their concepts for improving the military and National Security to a panel of senior leaders as well as a diverse audience that brings together best of the government, academic, and commercial worlds.  Like all of our events, the format will be informal and fun: no uniforms required, amongst great company, and with an atmosphere electric with possibilities.

All we need is you. If you have a big idea to make your command, the Navy, the Military, or the Department of Defense better, we want to hear it! Submit your proposed concepts to Athena via e-mail or social media for selection to pitch at this groundbreaking event! Our goal is to deliver 6-8 powerful pitches to the assembled crowd, with a laser focus on turning these concepts to reality.

In our past events, we’ve had many ideas begin the path to transition, receiving in excess of $1M in funding to deliver game-changing concepts to the fleet. Most recently, two Athena pitches received $100K in funding apiece to transition solutions to the fleet. Come throw your hat in the ring and make the Navy better!

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Our proud Athenians well represented at the West Coast Innovation Jam. Which Athena DC presenter will pursue funding at our first East Coast Innovation Jam?

This event will showcase your big ideas, but will also tell the story of several success stories. You’ll be able to hear from, and meet with the young innovators that are currently prototyping solutions to send to the Fleet and increase our Navy’s capabilities.

Join us at 7pm on Monday, May 16th at the Gaylord Center.  The event is free and open to all at the Sea Air Space Exposition and the DC area! Check the Sea Air Space event list / website for the specific room.  Don’t miss it!   

Come join the movement! Let’s work together to make our Military a force of the future!

 

Introducing ATHENA Silicon Valley 1.0!

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This way to an incredible innovation ecosystem and some great ideas to improve the military!

We are cracking the door to a group of service-members surrounded by the frenetic acceleration of technology and ideas in Silicon Valley.  This is exciting and new in that many of the service-members are either reservists or working to support the reserves.  There is a huge pool of talent that lingers at the door-step, who have uniforms at the ready, and who understand from experience the challenges we face in defense of our nation.  There has long been a cry to better leverage the talent that exists within the ranks of our reservists.  We are doing our part to open that door a little wider and source the ideas that have been informed by an outside perspective.  Expect to see some ideas from the active duty serving the reservists as well as those who are undercover as civilians in their day job during our traditional pitch competition which will take place from 2:00-4:00pm on April 28th at BJ’s Brewhouse in San Jose.

We are teaming up with the Defense Entrepreneur’s Forum (DEF) to host an Agora, or informal meetup, at lunch just prior to the event.  The focus of the Agora will be to ideate on the question: “How might we leverage the reservists to inform the aqcusition and use of cutting edge commercial technology.”  Both events are free to attend, with lunch and beverages available for purchase through the venue.

Join us at BJ’s Brewhouse in San Jose on April 28th at 12pm for DEF Agora and at 2pm for the ATHENA Pitch Competition!  See you there!

Please register for either event here: https://athena-sv.eventbrite.com

If you are in the area, a member of the DoD, and would like to pitch, reach out to us at athenanavy@gmail.com.  Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/athenanavy.  Twitter: @athenanavy

Innovation Jam Roundup

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By Dave Nobles

Wednesday’s Innovation Jam onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2) was an important and monumental moment for Naval Innovation.

The event was sponsored by a number of organizations, including Commander Pacific Fleet, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. The support of such senior leadership for Deckplate Innovation made the event a resounding success, demonstrated in spades through awarding not one but two Sailors $100,000 to fund their concepts through prototyping and transition.

That’s the important part. Ideas born out of frustration, perseverance, and a quest to make the Navy better have been funded. However, the significance of the Innovation Jam is beyond the funding.

During the Innovation Jam, the assembled crowd of Sailors and government civilians listened to senior uniformed leadership within the Navy, like the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift; The Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Readiness and Logistics, Vice Admiral Phil Cullom and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens. The three military speakers kicked off the event with a volley of support for The Athena Project, Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG), The Hatch, The Bridge, and other efforts to bring about positive change.  Each message resonated with the entrepreneurial and intraprenurial philosophies.

The voices of those senior leaders, combined with civilian thought leaders such as Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, the first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Microsoft and founder of Intellectual Ventures and Dr. Maura Sullivan, the Department of the Navy’s Chief of Strategy and Innovation, all echoed the a consistent theme:

Innovation is about taking risks.

The sponsorship, collaborative support and allocation of resources serves as a beacon of thoughtful risk taking by senior leadership in the Navy. And, funding two Sailor concepts serves as inspiration to empower all Sailors at all levels to share their own ideas and as a clear signal from the Navy’s top brass that they’re not only listening but that they’re also ready to act.

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Sailors and engineers work together to reframe their concepts during athenaTHINK at SSC Pacific

Over two days in San Diego, six Sailors who presented ideas through innovation initiatives such as The Athena Project, TANG, and The Hatch, were given the opportunity to interface with scientists and engineers at SSC Pacific and ONR to reframe and refine their concepts at an athenaTHINK event before presenting their ideas at the Innovation Jam to a panel of experts, who would decide a winner.

On the panel Dr. Myhrvold and Dr. Sullivan were joined by Dr. Stephen Russell of SSC Pacific, Mr. Scott DiLisio of OPNAV N4, Dr. Robert Smith of ONR, Mr. Arman Hovakemian of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division, ETCM Gary Burghart of SSC Pacific and the Commanding Officer of the host ship, USS ESSEX, CAPT Brian Quin.

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The panelists evaluating the pitches onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2)

The panel heard the six pitches and, after deliberation, Dr. Russell announced the results:

First Place: LTJG Rob McClenning, USS GRIDLEY (DDG 101)

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LTJG McClenning and Dr. Russell

LTJG McClenning presented his concept which he originally pitched at Athena West 3.0 called the Unified Gunnery System (UGS). The system would provide ballistic helmets equipped with augmented reality visors to the Sailors manning machine guns topside on a warship, and command and control via tablet in the pilot house. Commands given on the touch screen would provide indications to the gunners displaying orders, bearing lines and more. The system would be wired to prevent cyber attacks. The augmented reality capability of the system would mitigate potential catastrophic results of misheard orders due to the loud fire of the guns, and improve accuracy and situational awareness. LTJG McClenning received $500 for his concept, and $100K to develop the idea in collaboration with SSC Pacific.

Second Place: LT Bill Hughes, OPNAV N96

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LT Hughes and Dr. Russell

LT Hughes flew in from Washington, DC to pitch his concept, also from Athena West 3.0. The idea, CosmoGator, aims to automate celestial navigation through installed, gyro-stabilized camera mounts and small-scale atomic clocks to provide redundant Position, Navigation and Timing data to shipboard navigation and weapons systems. LT Hughes’ concept would continually update inertial navigation systems to enable continued operations in the event of GPS denial. Previously, this concept had been explored by the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell. LT Hughes received $300 and in a surprise move, OPNAV N4 funded his idea with $100K as well.

Third Place: GMC Kyle Zimmerman, Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific

GMC Zimmerman’s concept, originally presented at Athena West 4.0, intends to bring virtual reality to the Combat Information Center. Through the use of commercially available headsets, GMC Zimmerman proposed streaming a live optical feed of a ship’s operating environment to watchstanders to increase situational awareness and provide increased capability in responding to casualties such as Search and Rescue. GMZ Zimmerman received $200 for his idea.

Honorable Mention: LCDR Bobby Hsu, Commander, Task Force 34

LCDR Hsu pitched an idea from Theater Anti-Submarine Warfare (TASW) TANG for a consolidated information database for the litany of data required to effectively manage the TASW mission. The concept, Automated Response for Theater Information or ARTI, would leverage voice recognition software like the kind found in the Amazon Echo or Apple’s Siri, to enable watchstanders and commanders alike rapid access to critical information.

Honorable Mention: LT Clay Greunke, SSC Pacific

LT Greunke presented a concept that he began developing during his time at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and pitched at Athena West 9.0. His concept leverages virtual reality to more effectively train Landing Signals Officers (LSO) by recreating the simulator experience of an entire building in a laptop and Oculus headset. LT Greunke demonstrated his prototype for the panelists and described a vision for the LSO VR Trainer, called ‘SEA FOG,’ as the first piece of an architecture of virtual reality tools to improve training in a number of communities and services.

Honorable Mention: OSC Erik Rick, Naval Beach Group ONE

OSC Rick first presented his idea for a combined site to host all required computer based training on The Hatch, though he acknowledged that the concept had been a highly visible entry on The Hatch, as well as in previous crowd-sourcing initiatives such as Reducing Administrative Distractions (RAD), BrightWork and MilSuite. His concept is to make universal access tags for civilians, reserve and active duty personnel to enable easy tracking of completed training as well as required training. In his proposal, the host site would combine the requirements of the numerous sites currently hosting training requirements and deliver an App Store-like interface to simplify the experience for users.

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All of our presenters and panelists. America.

Not enough can be said for the courage that all of the presenters demonstrated to take the stage in an nerve-wracking setting and present their ideas. In another good news story, the panelists and the assembled crowd provided feedback to all the presenters, which will assist in the further development of all six concepts.

With the success of the Innovation Jam in the rear view mirror, the process now begins to build on the ideas that received funding. We’ll continue to provide updates of the future successes of the two funded concepts right here on the blog.

This milestone for Naval Innovation is nothing short of monumental. Many can relate to a near exhaustion with the rhetoric surrounding innovation: Agility, fast failure, big ideas, consolidating disparate efforts, getting technology to the warfighters, and certainly partnering partnerships with non-traditional players.  When actions are weighed against rhetoric, it is action that wins, taking the initiative, assuming the initiative to act and moving the needle.  And Wednesday, we saw that happen.

This inaugural Innovation Jam will not be a one-time thing. As stated by VADM Cullom in his Keynote Address the event will be coming to every fleet concentration area in the future. Here at The Athena Project, we’ll continue to push initiatives like the Innovation Jam to inspire the creative confidence to present ideas and aid in any way possible to turn concepts into reality.

And, for those wondering how they might get involved in an events like this, support your local Athena chapter, submit your ideas to The Hatch and participate in workshops like TANG! Participation in these, and any innovation initiative will make you eligible for your regional Innovation Jam!

The future looks bright indeed not only for innovation but for action.

And we’re damn proud to be a part of that.

 

Dave Nobles is a member of the Design Thinking Corps at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the founder of The Athena Project. He is also a Navy Reservist with the Office of Naval Research.

 

Innovation Jam: One Week Away!

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The next big idea to impact the Navy is coming directly from the fleet!

Brought to you by a cavalcade of sponsors, including Commander, Pacific Fleet, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, the Office of Naval Research, OPNAV N4, and The Athena Project, the Innovation Jam will be hosted aboard the USS Essex (LHD-2) on Wednesday, March 16th as six deckplate concepts will compete for the chance to slingshot their idea into reality!

We’re incredibly excited to be working with a stellar group, and showcasing ideas from Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG), The Hatch, SSC Pacific and The Athena Project!

Beyond the ideas, we’ll get to hear from some truly exceptional civilian thought leaders, including Dr. Nathan Myhrvold and Dr. Maura Sullivan, be motivated by some of our Navy’s innovation catalysts like Admiral Scott Swift (PACFLT), Vice Admiral Phil Cullom (OPNAV N4) and MCPON Mike Stevens, hear the exciting story of COMNAVSURFLANT’s excellent work being accomplished after 3M TANG onboard USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17), and glimpse some awesome concepts in development at SSC Pacific.

Our partners at SSC Pacific posted a great summary of the event on their Facebook page. Here’s the big takeaways for any San Diego region innovators looking to come and be a part of this event:

Attendance is free. Uniform is the Navy Working Uniform. Participation is open to all active duty military, reserve units and DOD civilian employees. Military ID or CAC required for entry. Lunch will be available. The cost is $10 for active duty military and civilians.

A sunset social will take place immediately after on the flight deck. The cost is $10 per person. Cash only for both events; please bring exact amount as there will be limited ability to make change. Space is limited to the first 150 participants.

If you will be having lunch or attending the social please indicate so in your email. Please send your name as it appears on your military ID or CAC, military rank or civilian title, and your parent command or civilian organization to tammy.lim@navy.mil. If you do not have a CAC, please note this in your email and send your name and a request for special access to tammy.lim@navy.mil.

Timeline
0800 – 0900 – Registration: USS ESSEX (LHD-2) is located on 32nd street, pier 7
0900 – 1200 – Keynote address; Civilian speakers, Intro of contestants
1200 – 1330 – Poster session/technology demos/buffet lunch
1330 – 1630 – Shark tank style competition; announce winner
1630 – 1800 – Sunset social event on flight deck

 

We’re looking forward to connecting with the Innovation Ecosystem in San Diego at this event! For any additional questions, don’t hesitate to comment below, or reach out to us on Facebook!

 

Announcing the First Ever Innovation Jam!

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An event coming to San Diego next month aims to slingshot ideas from The Athena Project, among all other innovation initiatives into prototyping orbit.

Co-sponsored by SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and The Athena Project, the first-ever Innovation Jam will bring together engaging presenters in the realm of innovation and engineering, showcase leading edge technology currently under development at SSC Pacific and conclude with an Innovation Championship, wherein seven candidate ideas will compete for $100K in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funding for prototyping.

On March 16th, the event will kick off at 0900 onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2) and feature a great lineup of speakers. Beyond the flag officer keynote address, Dr. Nathan Myhrvold (founder of Intellectual Ventures and former CTO of the Microsoft Corporation) and Dr. Maura Sullivan (Director of the Secretary of the Navy’s Task Force Innovation) will give engaging talks around the topic of innovation to the Sailors and engineers in attendance.

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USS ESSEX will be the site for the first ever Innovation Jam. 

Following a poster session at lunch, with amazing technologies from SSC Pacific on display, the focus will shift from theory and development to the ideas of seven Sailors, competing for the grand prize of prototype and transition funding for their idea.

Leading up to the event, each presenter will be matched with a subject matter expert in the technology their concept employs from SSC Pacific, and have worked the fine details and science behind their concepts, awaiting the Innovation Jam to unveil their refined ideas.

For the event, past The Athena Project, The Hatch and Tactical Advancements For the Next Generation (TANG) concepts will be featured, including ideas showcasing ideas imagining uses for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, redesigning warfare areas, and changing the way we view navigation. A panel of senior leaders at SSC Pacific, ONR and beyond will evaluate each concept and choose a winner from the group of phenomenal ideas.

The event will be open to all Active Duty personnel in the San Diego region. The Web site for registration will be live soon, so stay tuned to The Athena Project for updates. For more information, reach out through The Athena Project Facebook page, or e-mail athenanavy@gmail.com

Finally, a true platform to transition pure concepts from the deckplates exists, and we hope that you’ll join us for this important event!

Athena: A Plankowner’s Perspective

By: CDR Michele Day

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“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

— Edward de Bono

This month, theATHENAproject is continuing its growth around the globe. On January 15th at the Yokosuka Naval Base Galley, Athena Far East is kicking off their inaugural event. I am especially excited to see the ideas presented at ATHENA Far East – I’ll tell you why in just a bit.

Athena Far East is this Friday!

Athena Far East is this Friday!

We all know that innovation is fundamentally the process of inventing, introducing, and adopting a new product, practice, system, or behavior. The ability to innovate is impacted by a myriad of factors, some of which are controllable while others are non-controllable. Some people work in an environment that suppresses change or devalues employees who are young and inexperienced. Some people fear failure, think they are not creative enough, or are afraid of speaking publicly.

I’ve been a part of ATHENA since its inception and what an amazing journey it has been. When provided the opportunity to use their VOICE, Sailors are an unstoppable force. An interesting trend I saw in San Diego: The ideas pitched by Sailors were often tied to their parent command’s life cycle. For instance, Sailors who recently returned from deployment expressed ideas more tactical in nature, while those in the shipyard generally had ideas on improving maintenance, and those in the training cycle were focused on streamlining admin and qualifications.

A little throwback picture: The first ever pitch, when Athena was still unfortuntely named WikiWardroom.

A little throwback picture: The first ever pitch, when Athena was still unfortuntely named WikiWardroom.

As I read through the Roundups from ATHENA events I see the same spread of idea generation. This is why I am so excited about ATHENA Far East! Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) units are primarily operational. They find time for maintenance and training, but the lifecycle is more fluid than CONUS based forces. FDNF Sailors are always asking “what can we do to be better warfighters?” If you think about it, nearly all of the ideas pitched at ATHENA events can be tied to Warfighting First:

  • Streamlining admin allows for more training time.
  • Merging databases allows for better tracking of manning and material
  • Modernizing training provides warfighters better suited for today’s technological environment

But as I look into my ATHENA Far East crystal ball, I see FDNF Sailors pitching ideas that leverage current technologies to find new ways to execute the mission and conceptualizing new weapons systems.

As ATHENA has continued to grow, we’ve made a constant effort to innovate our own process, trying out new things and gaining feedback to try and make ATHENA better. In our recent events, we’ve experimented with “Shark Tank-style” panels of leaders to provide concept feedback, awarding personal development experiences to our participants and winners, inviting Sailors who have made headway with their projects as keynote speakers and beyond. In that spirit, we’re prototyping a new experience for our first Far East event! Specifically unique to ATHENA Far East is our partnership with the Defense Entrepreneurship Forum (DEF) as an official Agora and our endorsement by and involvement with the Military Writer’s Guild, and SECNAV’s Naval Innovation Advisory Council.

Brett Vaughn, one of the "Sharks" at Athena East 2.0, getting down to business with a presenter as CAPT Carter and CAPT Bodvake look on.

Brett Vaughn, one of the “Sharks” at Athena East 2.0, getting down to business with a presenter as CAPT Carter and CAPT Bodvake look on.

Expanding to Japan is incredibly exciting for not only ATHENA, but the Naval “Innovation Insurgency” as a whole. But beyond that, I think that it’s important to provide a stage for the bright minds currently serving in this Theater to have their voices heard. We hope that you’re as excited about it as we are.

Come see what ATHENA is all about, and join us in making positive change in the Navy! We hope to see you there!

 

CDR Michele Day is the former Commanding Officer of USS BENFOLD. She’s currently assigned to CTF-70 as the Surface Operations Officer. She’s a proud graduate of Texas A&M and on a never ending journey to grow as a servant leader, positive change instigator, and figuring out how to get her Sailors to ‘give a poop.’

There are loads of Athena Events coming up! If you’re in the San Diego, Groton or Patuxent River areas, connect with us if you want to be a part of our upcoming events! Connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/athenanavy or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail athenanavy@gmail.com!

To learn more about Defense Entrepreneurs Agora: http://defenseentrepreneurs.org/about-def-agora/