Project Arc Brings Innovation
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Aubree Owens
February 8, 2023
“When you’re a hammer ... everything looks like a nail,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Colin Zavislak, a member of Project Arc, regarding his passion for problem-solving.
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Colin Zavislak, lead member of the Project Arc cohort in the Pacific Air Forces region, writes notes while on a walk-through of the 36th Contingency Response Squadron at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, January 30, 2023. There is a new program emerging across the Air Force called Project Arc, which enables a few select uniformed scientists and engineers to work directly with operational users to solve problems at the point of impact. Zavislak and two others in the cohort are the first Project Arc team to enter the Pacific Air Forces, spending six months among three bases in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aubree Owens)
There is a new program emerging across the Air Force called Project Arc, which enables a few select uniformed scientists and engineers to work directly with operational users to solve problems at the point of impact.
A group of three individuals, 1st Lt. Colin Zavislak, Senior Airman Zachery Soles and Airman 1st Class Terrance Spain, who come from various Air Force Specialty Codes, but all yield a personal background in engineering, are the first Project Arc cohort to enter the Pacific Air Forces. The three-member team will spend six months among three bases in the region, but more than half of their time will be here with the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
“In order to understand and solve problems, the three of us go out into different units and talk to members about their day-to-day operations, tempo and mission and then ask them questions like, 'what do you need to do the mission that you don’t have now,’” explained Zavislak.
One of their main projects is to streamline an automated system for the reception of units that wish to train and exercise on Andersen AFB.
“The Andersen Reception Checklist is a stand-alone, local form that includes comprehensive detail that Andersen's units must assess and adjudicate to provide support to visiting units or entities. Visitors include any branch of the U.S. military, the federal government, and foreign partner nations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Raymond Perez, 36th Wing plans and programs officer.
The Project Arc team hopes to transform the wing’s current 24-page online document into a site with digital reception forms that are easy to fill out and track.
“Because of the extensive length of the checklist, requestors can easily overlook important details that will cause detrimental effects to managing operations or exercises,” said Perez.
Streamlining this checklist will not only alleviate a tidiness task for members of the 36th Wing, it will improve the base’s overall funding because the metrics generated in the system can provide insight for future budget projections.
“Our team has been informed by the base’s leadership about the lack of funding compared to what the base actually supports with the frequent exercises and missions hosted here,” said Spain. “So, if we are able to build a system that effectively captures the data metrics of those visiting – the 36th Wing leadership would be able to secure more funding to better their mission.”
Additionally, the team has also visited several other units to troubleshoot any issues they have on a day-to-day basis. The team visited the 36th Munitions Squadron, 36th Maintenance Squadron, 36th Security Forces Squadron, 36th Force Support Squadron and 36th Contingency Response Squadron.
Another important problem set this cohort aims to address is a common thread amongst bases in PACAF, corrosion. The team plans to implement a corrosion effort that would enable assets to have a longer useful life.
“Guam's corrosive environment is one of the biggest challenges to operations: inoperative equipment puts our readiness into jeopardy,” said Lt. Col. Steve Smith, 36th CRS commander. “If we can find ways to mitigate, or at least minimize the effects of corrosion, we can increase the average lifespan on our equipment, which reduces replacement costs and has a positive impact on mission capability.”
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Smith, the commander of the 36th Contingency Response Squadron, does a walk-through of the 36th CRS with Project Arc members visiting Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, January 30, 2023. These three members come from various Air Force Specialty Codes, but all yield a personal background in engineering, and are the first Project Arc cohort to enter the Pacific Air Forces. The three-member team will spend six months among three bases in the region, but more than half of their time will be here with the 36th Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aubree Owens)
Any problem set the team does not complete during their time at Andersen AFB, will be written up in an in-depth research paper and shared with the base’s innovation cell, EdgeWERX, and recommended paths forward will be shared with senior leaders across the Air Force.
“Project Arc, to include any innovation-centric effort really, brings a fresh perspective to a problem set,” said Smith. “The longer you work with an issue, the easier it is to fall into the mindset that there is no solution; these folks not only can look at something from a different lens, but their experience working other projects can bring solutions to the table that otherwise might not have been thought of.”
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