For its third year running, the Athena Project brought innovators from the DC area and put them in front of some of the most influential panelists to Date!

On Monday April 9th the annual DC area Project Athena came back to its roots. Once again the event was hosted at the beautiful Gaylord Convention Center, directly following the first day of the Sea, Air, and Space convention. A star-studded panel led by the honorable Mr. James Geurts and Mr. Morgan Plummer set the tone for this fantastic evening.


The Honorable Mr. Geurts serves as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition), overseeing an annual budget in excess of $60 billion.



Mr. Plummer is the of Director of the National Security Technology Accelerator Program MD5 as well as the Executive Director of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF)


The winning idea for the evening was presented by AT2(AW) Jonathan Price. His idea centered on the concept that commands around the fleet can incorporate modern phone applications to increase accuracy, efficiency and help each sailor have a smooth and less chaotic transition process as they leave one command and are gained by another. His proposition brings with it the possibility to provide real time data to larger entities outside of a sailor’s individual command as brought up by the panelists.

Jonathan was presented the Admiral Sim’s Award for Intellectual Courage by Mr. Geurts.

Second Place and runner up is no new name to Project Athena. AOAN Marissa Cross presented an original idea for the second year in a row; focusing on fleet wide use of recycled plastic’s to offset the material demands of 3D printing. In her presentation Marissa hit on the importance of this rapidly developing technology, as well as the need for ships to be self-sufficient; replacing small parts and components within hours of them malfunctioning while utilizing an un-tapped resource from within the ship itself.

AT1 Robert Rubano’s idea highlighted the need to hold a base-wide Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project to increase the traffic flow and overall efficiency on Naval Station Norfolk. His idea stands to provide sailors and naval support staff reduced stress, relieve congestion on nearby streets and highways, improved security as well as reduce safety concerns from accidents.

AT1 Richard Walsh is one of the most recognized enlisted innovators, being the first Naval enlisted member to serve on the Secretary of the Navy’s Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC) and one of the Co-creators of the Illuminate Thinkshop. His idea seeks to perfect the logistical issues facing the distribution of maintenance repair items around the world at depot and intermediate maintenance facilities. In his word’s “If we treat the flow of parts as one line feeding into separate check-out isles at a convenience store, we can rapidly avoid congestions and move components to the quickest lane for repair.”

brandon-e1525561386737.jpgAE2 Brandon Montgomery proposed a revolutionary idea to bridge the gap in communication prevalent to every command in the fleet concerning mass communication. He proposed to use capabilities at everyone’s disposal: Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook, to carefully extract specific data and rapidly send notifications from a command directly to member’s cell phones. Brandon highlighted the projects ability to warn of immediate dangers, delays, or messages from the Chain of Command from the top vice the traditional word-of-mouth communication through the chain of command that lacks transmission speed.

DC 3.0 was packed with raw innovative creativity and a will to push our Navy toward the fleet of tomorrow!

Article by: AT1 Michael Pecota. Mike has been involved with ATHENA DC three years running and masterfully orchestrated this event! He is also one of the Navy’s experts in additive manufacturing and has inspired many see the strategic benefits of this emerging technology.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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:

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!

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.


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.

Introducing ATHENA Silicon Valley 1.0!


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:

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

Introducing, ATHENA Far East!

By LTJG Tom Baker


USS BENFOLD (DDG 65), the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, and a team of innovation veterans from fleet concentration areas across the United States have teamed up in Japan to establish ATHENA Far East, our first permanent ATHENA hub outside of the continental United States!

Rooting itself at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Japan, the opportunities to collaborate with Japanese and American sailors are tremendous.

The surface and submarine mariner of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces across Yokosuka Bay, an entrepreneurship professor from a local university, the talented civilian maintenance community, an aviation mechanic in Aircraft Carrier RONALD REAGAN…we will reach at every corner of civilian and military entrepreneurship to bring the same diverse conversation under one roof that has made every ATHENA so successful before us!

If you are in Japan, make plans now to join us on January 15th from 1245 – 1430 at the Commodore Matthew Perry General Mess “Tatami Room” on the Yokosuka Navy Base.

Any Military members or DoD Civilians interested in pitching ideas at this event can reach out on facebook or connect with us on the gmail account listed below!

Connect with Athena on Facebook: or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail!


athenaTHINK OKC!

by: LCDR Drew Barker

Look out Oklahoma City!

athenaTHINK graphic2

Learning how to break the proverbial box and create powerful ideas.

The first athenaTHINK event east of the Rockies took place on October 30th at the Tom Steed Community Learning Center at Rose State College. Creating a collaborative space for military members to innovate and support fresh ideas, over thirty military members from the Air Force and the Navy convened along with supportive members of the community  for a three hour course of guided creative immersion aimed at equipping impactful ideas for action.

Attendees learned design thinking, causation mapping, collaborative development, and how to leverage a supportive network.  Providing feedback on the course leaving sticky-notes on the door, attendees remarked “Excellent Course!” “Loved Networking and Collaborative Element,” and “Thanks for the Valuable Tools!”  Those who attended universally communicated a hunger for working alongside a diverse and collaborative group outside their normal work environment to solve difficult problems faced by all in the military.

athenaTHINK pics

Fully involved in creative immersion!

We continually focus on harnessing deckplate innovations to create a cadre of forward-thinking, creatively confident Service Members for tomorrow’s Military.  Their next event in the Oklahoma City Area will take place in January and will be a pitch competition.  Expect exact time and location to be posted here and to the facebook page (

The athenaTHINK event is the first step in creating a collaborative community of military innovation in Central Oklahoma.  Seeking to build synergistic and flexible avenues of support for service members with great ideas, we are bringing together elements from Navy units, Air Force units, a major maintenance depot, and hope to tap into area Army connections as well.  Looking forward to where this community will go!

LCDR Drew Barker is an E-6B Pilot, co-founder of ATHENA Northwest, and current uniformed lead of The ATHENA Project.

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: or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail!

ATHENA Northwest 3.0 Roundup

By: The ATHENA Northwest Team

Earlier this summer we had the strongest showing and most excitement at an ATHENA Northwest event thus far.  With a larger and more diverse audience, more presenters, and a new format for presentations, the latest Northwest Innovation competition set the bar high.  Kicking off the event as a keynote speaker was Keith Archbold, the Chief Technology Officer for Naval Undersea Warfare Command, Keyport.  Pulling from his experience with presidential cabinet level work in technology exploration and time as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, Keith captured the audience as he coined the innovation quotient.  Describing how innovation is a result of demand (or capital to invest) over structural drag (those things that stifle entrepreneurialism), he promoted ATHENA as a key element in reducing the Military’s structural drag.  Following Keith’s key note, the audience was divided up into groups, one for each presenter.  Each presenter had the opportunity to pitch their idea several times as the groups rotated to hear each presenter.  After several rounds, an initial vote was cast and the top three ideas advanced to a lightning round in front of the entire audience.  A final round of voting produced the new Admiral Sim’s Winner for Intellectual Courage, ABF3 John Broussard.  Here is a complete breakdown on the ideas presented.

ABF3 John Broussard offers a compelling argument to institute pier-side recycling.

ABF3 John Broussard offers a compelling argument to institute pier-side recycling.

*** The ATHENA Northwest 3.0 Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage***

In-Port Recycling Program – ABF3 John Broussard, USS NIMITZ

John did his homework and it showed through his presentation.  He won the audience over as he cited some staggering numbers showing the impact of ship generated trash to the size of landfills and how recycling is profitable.  He unearthed several Navy instructions on shipboard recycling that lay out the duties and responsibilities of commands that host Navy ships pier side.  Directly in alignment with the SECNAV’s and CNO’s push for greater sustainability, energy footprint reduction, and environmentally conscious decisions, this idea is a no brainer.  Ships are even set-up for trash separation at sea, making it an easy idea to transition for the crew. Perhaps the most intriguing element of his pitch was what he intended to do with the profits from the recycling program.  He would use the funds to purchase text-books for the common college classes taken onboard and establish a text-book loan program through the Ship’s library.  We’ve connected John to the regional trash and recycling program manager as well as decision makers at NAS Kitsap to assist with implementing the in-port recycling program.  Everyone involved is excited to see this happen!

AZAN Scott Bonk highlights nearly zero cost way to save millions Navy wide.

AZAN Scott Bonk highlights a nearly zero cost idea to save the Navy a few million dollars.

Printer Ink and Toner Default Setting Change – AZAN Scott Bonk, NAS Whidbey Island

AZAN Bonk has a one-step solution to save the Navy millions of dollars.  Every year the Navy uses hundreds of thousands of dollars in printer toner.  What if there was a simple way to reduce this usage, without buying more equipment?  Simply by reducing toner density and enabling economy mode on all commercial black and white printers and copiers, the Navy could save almost $1,000 a year per printer.  Over time, and if implemented fleet wide, this initiative could save millions of dollars in operational costs.

AZAN Bonk conducted an experiment with two like HP Printer Models using the same ink cartridges to prove his case.  He reduced the ink setting of one printer from the maximum of five down to three while leaving the other at the default setting of five.  The results where astounding.  The users of the reduced printer had no issues with their working documents while nearly doubling the page count for the ink cartridge as compared to the factory setting printer.  The data AZAN Bonk extrapolated from this experiment shows that the Navy can indeed save and in a big way.

His idea is simple to enforce and costs to reset printer defaults is already embedded in the sunk costs of the Navy’s Information Technology manning and budget.  This is a change that can be implemented fleet wide and the savings can have an immediate impact.


AO3 Brianna Frenette pitches her concept for an educational app based on friendly competition.

Smart Device Trivia Based App for Professional Knowledge Development – AO3 Brianna Frenette, USS JOHN C. STENNIS

These days there is a phone application for everything, but why is there no App for Navy education?

What if there was an application that would not only encourage Sailors to study but make it a fun friendly competition?  AO3 Brianna Frenette wants to create a jeopardy game that asks different questions based on the category.  For example, a sailor learning material for their Air Warfare would have categories to choose from relating to the different departments onboard the aircraft carrier.

Starting from a baseline of basic questions, the question data base will grow and evolve over time from user supplied questions.  The answers will come from the subject matter experts in a virtual board who find and corroborate questions and answers.  The answers will be derived from instructions, guides, procedures, books, bibliographies, and syllabi.  If an incorrect question slips through the cracks they can easily be reported and reviewed.

Making it fun, Sailors can compete one-on-one or with other Sailors throughout the fleet.  Making learning fun and challenging will better prepare Sailors for their jobs and qualifications.  Brianna’s goal is to launch her Pro-Trivia App by establishing a company herself or joining with an app developer.  Her long term goals are to expand knowledge apps across a full spectrum of educational disciplines and fields including military, commercial, private, grade school, and college level.

Hull climbing surveyor robot- Chris Stone, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Engineer Chris Stone thinks he has found the right “person” to do required survey work on ships that come into PSNS & IMF … a robot. Surveys are routinely performed when a vessel first enters dry dock at a shipyard and typically can put other work on hold until complete.  At PSNS & IMF, these surveys are usually performed by two workers in a lift which necessitates the use of fall protection gear and requires additional hazard pay. The use of a remotely-controlled hull climbing robot, which already exists for other applications, to perform hull surveys would increase the speed and safety of the evolution.  It would also increase consistency and reduce the chance of repetitive stress injuries.  Only one worker would be required and by using multiple detectors, a larger swath could be covered faster than the current method, multiplying the time and cost savings.  Since the tool/technology already exists for other applications, Chris and other engineers are in the process of testing it for this use.

Inspection Camera … on a Stick! – John Albrecht, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Mr. John Albrecht, PSNS & IMF civilian industrial engineer, presented an idea that uses a tool already available outside of the Navy: a portable, handheld, video endoscope for inspecting hard-to-reach spaces. The tool is one you might find car mechanics using to see inside engines without tearing anything apart, thanks to the flexibility of having a lighted probe on the end of a long cable. The benefit for Navy ship maintenance work is exponentially more, since it would allow for safer inspection of countless areas on both surface ships and submarines.   It’s safer and faster because the inspector doesn’t need to move and climb ladders, or wear fall protection gear, or move specialized equipment.  They just put their “camera on a stick” where they need to see, and use that system to identify which specific items need a more detailed, “up close and personal” inspection.  Besides the safety factor, the tool would potentially save time and money in labor thanks to the advanced visual inspection capability.

Mandi McCrae and Allison Westergard provide practical ideas for incorporating healthier food options in the shipyard.

Mandi McCrae and Allison Westergard provide practical ideas for incorporating healthier food options in the shipyard.

Healthy input/Healthy output – Mandi McCrae and Allison Westergard, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

We know that what we fuel our bodies with is a direct correlation of how our body will perform. The tag team of Ms. Mandi McCrae and Allison Westergard decided that concept should be used to improve work performance too. As they said “we thought, what better way to increase our output than by influencing the input … to our bodies, that is.” Their idea to push for cleaner, healthier, and more wholesome food offered at the Shipyard was not to replace what is offered now, but to expand the options to include whole fruits, vegetables, and hearty grains. Instead of the sometimes chemically-laden, processed nutrition-LESS empty “foods”, the team proposed solutions that included allowing local companies to be allowed to provide more in the way of “delivering” to the shipyard and searching for additional food truck options that had healthier food. Here’s to truly increasing productivity!

Custom safety gear for teammate with underdeveloped hand – Ben Paddock, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

One size does not always fit all, and when it comes to safety, a good fit is paramount. Ben Paddock, with PSNS & IMF’s Moonshine Lab, an innovation-fueled entity within the command, wants to make sure one of his teammates does get the right fit. A fellow PSNS & IMF worker has an underdeveloped hand, which makes some aspects of his job more difficult. While that teammate had been successful doing his job, donning required safety gear didn’t always offer him as much protection because of the poor fit on his hand. Gloves, in particular, were putting this worker in a situation to easily get his loose glove fingers stuck under heavy materials. At the time of Athena 3.0, Ben was still working on prototypes for a solution that would enable his teammate him to keep doing a great job, while keeping his hand protected.

ABF3 Jonte Johnson shows proposes a program to increase diversity of thought and build the professional networks of Sailors.

ABF3 Jonte Johnson shows proposes a program to increase diversity of thought and build the professional networks of Sailors.

Distinguished Sailor Exploration Program – ABF3 Jonte Johnson, USS JOHN C. STENNIS

Jonte is a repeat offender when it comes to delivering powerful ideas to spur collaboration.  While building on the concept he pitched at ATHENA Northwest 1.0 to improve collaboration between the ship, shipyard, and base for local improvements, he developed a second concept that looks a little like the traditional Distinguished Visitors Program turned inside out.  He proposed a program to send several high performing Sailors to visit area industry, education, and government leaders once a quarter to learn their leadership, process development, management, and improvement strategies.  The program intentionally focuses on building the personal network for these Sailors in order to empower them to make greater improvements and impacts both in the Navy and in the community.  Jonte urged us all to never underestimate the power of networking and building people up through the positive relationships.  Even if this idea finds no other home, we are considering how to apply this concept to the benefit of future ATHENA winners.

Torque Enabling Device for Wire Rope Connections – William Mooney, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Mr. William Mooney told the story of how the Shipyard has transitioned from wire cable to synthetic ropes when it comes to rigging and moving heavy objects.  While the connection of synthetic rope was much simpler than the cumbersome joining of two wire cables, the results could be horrific in the event of a fire.  Imagine the firefighters running in to put out the fire and the synthetic ropes melting, causing heavy loads to drop on those putting out the fire.  Steel cable will never have that issue and Mr. Mooney designed a torque enabling device to simplify connecting wire rope and ensure a strong connection.  He hopes to pursue a Navy patent on the tool and see a return to a safer material for shipyard rigging.


EM2 Deborah “Saga” Sagapolutele leaves no room for doubt concerning the shortfalls of the Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) program and outlines some sensible alternatives. Little did she know, they were already in the works as revealed by the recent Naval Message outlining new PFA changes.

Passionate about how the current physical fitness regulations fail to set an equal playing field or promote strength, Saga led the audience through a couple of real life stories (her own being one of them) where someone failed the body composition assessment (BCA) but could measurably demonstrate superior fitness and strength. Coming from a Samoan heritage, she educated the audience on how the current BCA put certain body types at a disadvantage.  Her goal is to adjust the PRT policy so that people who don’t make the Navy’s BCA standard could still take the PRT.  She highlighted the fact that the Navy’s BCA standards were stricter than the DOD standard and that the DOD standard may be more reasonable for certain body types.  If Sailors are under the DOD BCA and can pass the PRT with a “Good” or better, they should get a partial pass.  The good news about this idea is that it is becoming a reality.  Too good of an idea to ignore, it has surfaced in many places and from multiple sources, spurring a change to the policy.  The next two PRT cycles will incorporate rules that make EM2 Saga’s idea a reality.

All in all, a fantastic event with another set of incredible ideas to better serve the mission of the Navy and Department of Defense.  Looking forward to where these ideas will go!

Don’t forget!!  ATHENA East 2.0 is happening in Norfolk on Friday, October 2nd at Work|Release at 1600.  Register to be a voting member of the audience here:

The ATHENA Northwest team is gearing up for their fourth installment, stay tuned for the announcement of ATHENA Northwest 4.0!  Connect with The Athena Project on Facebook: or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy.

Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail!

Project Pulse: The Rustbuster

By: LTJG Tom Baker


BMSN Robert Dorsey explains his innovations for the next generation needle gun.

What an incredible update for one of our Waterfront ATHENA 7 innovators!

BMSN Robert Dorsey’s “Rustbuster” innovation recently caught the attention of Scientists from Commander, Naval Surface Forces SES! With CNSF granting specific funding for further research and prototypes, Susie Alderson and her team of advisers recently visited Dorsey onboard USS BENFOLD to take a look at his idea in action!

Dan Green, Director of SPAWAR’s Joint Advanced Manufacturing Region Southwest and the Secretary of the Navy’s Innovation Implementation Lead for Katalyst 21 was one of many advisers who met with Dorsey.

“This was our first DoN Katalyst-21 event and I am very pleased with the engagement so far”, says Dan. “From an Innovation lifecycle perspective, the DoN Katalyst-21 concept supports rapid prototyping and risk reduction phases that follow the generation of good ideas.  Our mission is to support the “incubation”  of Fleet Innovation by connecting sailor-generated ideas with a means to digitally or physically prototype and grow ideas into possible solutions.”

This is promising opportunity for the San Diego ATHENA community!

BMSA Dorsey led the team through his divisional spaces, explaining the issues faced with current Needle Guns and illustrating the areas where current tools onboard cannot fully tackle preservation challenges.

The needle gun is a simple pneumatic tool that uses compressed air to a piston which constantly pounds on a set of needles. Dorsey wanted to make the needle gun more versatile, creating interchangeable fittings with different types of needles to match different surfaces, while also making it a few inches smaller for those hard-to-reach spaces.

“This will save us time by just changing the fittings rather than leaving our work and getting another tool,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey also proposed changing the design of the trigger for increased grip and reduced hand fatigue. Some ideas he expressed for the interchangeable tips included a round tip for softer metals, a v-shaped tip for deep, layered rust and a chisel head for wide paint “busting.”

“I have done some research, but I have yet to find a pneumatic tool that uses the piston design with interchangeable fittings,” Dorsey said.

Pete Schmitz of Intel Corporation was fulled immersed in Dorsey’s walkthrough. Utilizing revolutionary 3-D image mapping technology on a tablet, Pete was able to photograph the difficult equipment and spaces that Dorsey highlighted. Using specialized software, the CNSF team will combine those 3-D images with Dorsey’s prototype ideas to develop several solutions for prototype.

The design team at CNSF is currently working these prototypes and intends to return their results to Mr. Dorsey in the coming weeks!

Tom Baker is the First Lieutenant onboard the Ballistic Missile Defense Guided Missile Destroyer, USS BENFOLD (DDG 65). He is a graduate of Oregon State University in Entrepreneurship.

Connect with The Athena Project on Facebook: or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail!

Gearing Up for Waterfront Athena 8

By: LTJG Tom Baker


We are excited to extend an invitation to Waterfront ATHENA 8 on Friday, August 28th at the Societe Brewing Tasting Room from 1200-1500!

Before I started writing this announcement, I read through the blog posts below from LCDR Drew Barker and ENS Daniel Stefanus. My takeaway in short: We are witnessing some very exciting and inspirational times!

Growth and transformation within ATHENA is accelerating. We are breaking new ground in the amount of support and interest received from our surrounding military and civilian communities. ATHENA 8 promises a showing of that growth and change.

The mighty BENFOLD, our original grassroots platform for The ATHENA Project, is preparing for a homeport shift to Yokosuka, Japan in early September. We will carry over a team of inspired hearts and minds, anxious to launch ATHENA Far East this fall. And certainly, in that effort we are thrilled to connect with anyone who might be inspired by the Project and would like to get involved – message us if you’re interested!

The San Diego team we depart from is nothing short of awesome! At ATHENA 8, BENFOLD will “pass the torch” to leaders from LCSRON 1 and USS ANCHORAGE.

As always, the stage is 100% open to any innovators in the San Diego area, regardless of community affiliation (or service affiliation for that matter, as we are thrilled to have our Marine Corps brethren geared to participate in ATHENA 8!). If you have a big idea that you want to share with our open and accepting network, get a hold of us and come on down to the event to share your idea with kindred spirits!


The Athena Project returning to the awesome space that our friends at Societe Brewing Company have built on August 28th!

We hope you can share these exciting changes with us at Waterfront ATHENA 8. See you at Societe on August 28th!


Tom Baker is the First Lieutenant onboard the Ballistic Missile Defense Guided Missile Destroyer, USS BENFOLD (DDG 65). He is a graduate of Oregon State University in Entrepreneurship.

Connect with The Athena Project on Facebook: or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail!