SHREVEPORT, La. - STRIKEWERX, Air Force Global Strike Command's innovation hub, and LSU Shreveport are working together to develop prototypes and solutions that will improve the lives of Airmen across the Command.
STRIKEWERX has partnered with the university's Cyber Collaboratory as a space that will produce prototypes resulting from Airmen's own ideas, needs identified by the Command, and STRIKEWERX's design sprints - a five-day, intensive collaboration between military, industry, and academia to design and produce a prototype as the solution to a particular problem.
The Collaboratory is a 10,000 square foot facility that focuses on emerging technologies, featuring 3D printers that range from desktop size to industrial format and use standard plastic filament to exotic metals like carbon fiber. The facility also features a holographic table and wall for visualization and interaction with 3D models, augmented reality/virtual reality headsets, and two dozen high end gaming computers that can be used for heavy computing needs such as data analysis.
The partnership between LSUS and STRIKEWERX not only means access to that equipment but the university's expertise on projects via access to students, faculty, and staff.
"I think it's fantastic for both of us. This partnership gives students an experience they would not have otherwise and see things that we would not normally ever be involved with," said Scott Isaacs, director of the Cyber Collaboratory at LSUS.
Previously, LSUS provided resources for STRIKEWERX to print a model of a Transport Erector Jack Stand Slot as part of a design sprint in September 2020. The Collaboratory then provided faculty and academic support in the sprint itself, before using 3D printers to create a prototype of the proposed solution.
"This design sprint solved a problem that cost hundreds of manhours each year for missile maintainers, on top of being a major morale issue that had Airmen dig out ice, rocks and debris in freezing temperatures just to perform basic maintenance," said Russ Mathers, STRIKEWERX director. "The LSUS Cyber Collaboratory provided the expertise and physical resources to help solve this problem and strengthen the Command."
The Collaboratory then later provided the capabilities necessary to review, refine and produce a device that would help B-52 maintainers at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, effectively drill out brake pads for the aircraft.
"A single shop spent 80 hours per month drilling B-52 brakes across the command, and the Collaboratory provided innovative means to solve this major issue and make the Airmen's ideas a reality," Mathers added.
Isaacs believes these projects are an illustration of how the Collaboratory can provide its resources to help solve issues facing the warfighter and STRIKEWERX can move quickly to utilize them.
"This whole process moved much more quickly than the standard procurement procedure, which is what I think is great about STRIKEWERX - it benefits AFGSC by removing traditional barriers and progressing things forward to improve everyone's lives," said Isaacs.