2048… The Magic Number

By LCDR Kristen Wheeler

2048

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

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

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

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

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

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

istock_000010721352small

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

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

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

 

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

Athena Northwest 4.0 Preview

cropped-vertical_color_raster1.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time: 1330-1500

Attire: Business casual

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

Admission is free and open to anyone and everyone!

POC:     LT Daniel Conley

512-981-7399

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.

Venue.JPG

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

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


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

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

Admiral Sims Winner

Rory drives the point home.

PO2 Brenden Hebert NCDOC – Cross Organization Red Teaming for Navy


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

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


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

Shark Panel

The Shark Panel Listening Intently

PO3 Brady Jordan FRCMA Washington – Clean Laser Preservation System

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

PO2 Teal USS RHODE ISLAND – Navy Exam Hub

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

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

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


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

LTJG McGough NNWC – Software as a Service for Naval Networks


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

Event Host

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


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

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

Athena East 3.0: One Week Away!

cropped-vertical_color_raster1.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

 

 

 

 

 

How an E-5 Dental Tech is Supporting the Navy’s Energy Security

By HM2 Joshua Cranford

cracked-concrete

Beginning fiscal year 2017 the United States Naval Academy (USNA) will be starting research into partially premixed diesel fuel as a measure to ensure the Navy’s energy security. They’ll do this with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as a direct result of a pitch that I made. Did I mention I’m a Second Class Petty Officer; who serves as a Dental Technician?

Empathizing with the reader taking this information in let me answer the obvious question- Yes, reality is stranger than fiction. Had I worked for a company like Google or Facebook and suggested an app for the company to produce, it would be very easy to digest one of these titans of innovations running with an idea from any source; but the Navy? One of the largest bureaucracies in the world listening to a… Dental Tech… on macroeconomic energy trends? The Navy has something Google and Facebook don’t though, and that’s ATHENA. And well, you know, a slightly over-zealous Dental Tech. Having said all that just know this isn’t a politically correct puff piece; just for the record- the Navy doesn’t pay E-5’s enough to write those.

A NAVADMIN was released in December of 2015 calling for sailors with a “High Risk, High Reward” idea to submit an application to the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC). I read about this and submitted 18 pages of “this is so obscure, it might work” and associated documents on how to integrate hydrogen use into the fleet as a viable substitute for fossil fuels. Long story short my proposal on how to allocate $1.3 million for a proof of concept for Project Water Engine (PWE) fell by the way of congress defunding the CRIC- I wrote angry letters to both of my senators and my congressmen; but I digress.

A few weeks later I got an email from the CRIC coordinator informing me about ATHENA DC 1.0 taking place at the Sea Air and Space Symposium in just over a month. I sent off my white paper on PWE to ATHENA with all the enthusiasm an individual typical has when purchasing lottery tickets. Yeah I was ready for a win, but I wasn’t expecting my number to come up… I won the preverbal lottery.

160516-N-PO203-521

The panelists and presenters at Athena DC 1.0, hosted at the 2016 Sea Air Space Expo.

Immediately after ATHENA informed me I would be pitching, I got an email from the good people at ONR asking if I needed help refining my five-minute pitch. Well I looked up who I would be pitching to (a three-star admiral, and three other individuals with a collective IQ around 550ish), had a momentary panic attack, and then humbly accepted the offer for help. The three individuals I meet with at ONR took the weighty tomb of my novel idea and made it sound intelligible enough for a meaningful five-minute pitch.

Sea Air and Space came and if memory serves correctly, I was the fifth best pitch of five presenters. Measuring success is tricky business though. The conversation on PWE continued long after my five-minute public forum was concluded. The conversation also led me to being connected with the Naval Innovation Network; a group of driven individuals who don’t need to be told “it’s their Navy”; they already know.

After the pitch I guess is when you could say the real work started. I received an email from ONR again. While confidence in a project that called for gasoline-hydrogen-hybrids was thin, I was informed that there could be a funding possibility. ONR had money to spend but it needed to come from the Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence (NEPTUNE) initiative; AKA alternatives energy research that goes through a college capstone/ research project. I had some work to do to align interests on PWE. I took to the Naval Innovation Network and tracked down some individuals at the Naval Academy. After some real champions of innovations pointed me in the right direction I found the Mechanical Engineering Department.

us_naval_academy_probe_08b1d

The panelists and presenters at Athena DC 1.0, hosted at the 2016 Sea Air Space Expo.

From the start I wanted to prove that Hydrogen could be used as a cheap/ sustainable supplemental/ primary fuel in internal combustion engines; specifically, with gasoline. Fast forward a few months and a professor in the MECH ENG DEPT asks me the question “why not diesel, it’s the Navy’s favorite fuel source”. There’s more though- there was a concept floating around academia about pre-mixing hydrogen with diesel fuel. I looked at PWE and this concept of partially premixed diesel fuel fit like a glove.

So I had a few building blocks to work with: my idea, a college wanting to explore a new concept very similar to my idea, and funding for a college to explore my idea. Well ONR was very receptive to partially premixed diesel fuel and the Academy was very receptive to the idea of getting funding for a research project.

So if you’re considering submitting your idea to ATHENA for the opportunity to pitch remember three things:

  1. Never accept a “no” from someone who’s not authorized to say yes.
  2. A dental tech is influencing alternative energy research in the Navy.
  3. This one is from MCPON (ret) Stevens and couldn’t apply more- Build on small successes, and stay positive!
cropped-vertical_color_raster1.png

Supporting the innovator to support the innovation.

HOWEVER, I hope it’s been noted that ATHENA never directly supported my “Innovation”. ATHENA supported me- the innovator. It was on me to align interests and exploit the Naval Innovation Network that I was connected with to promote my innovation. ATHENA provided me an opportunity to present my idea. More than that- ATHENA gave me the opportunity to create opportunity.

-Go Navy, Beat EVERYONE!

 

“Joshua Cranford is currently assigned to Naval Health Clinic Annapolis as a the Dental department ALPO and is currently pursuing a degree in mathematics.”

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

image

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.  

ATHENA

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”.

Borg

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.

MakeItSo

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

MakeItGlow

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

Frozens-Queen-Elsa-009

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

160516-N-PO203-521

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.  

160516-N-PO203-515

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!

SeaAirSpacelogo

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.

ProjectImage

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.

IMG_5820

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!

cropped-vertical_color_raster1.png

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.  

SeaAirSpacelogo

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!

IMG_0544

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!