FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Innovation is about making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products.
The MAINEiacs at the 101st Air Refueling Wing take pride in constantly breaking the mold by creating and producing innovative ideas that not only help ourselves complete mission standards but also other units around the United States.
One of the units the 101st has had the pleasure of collaborating with is the Army Reserve's 75th Innovation Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. This partnership came from a request by ARCWERX, an organization within the Air Force Reserve purposed to create and foster a lasting culture of innovation throughout the military.
“The initial request was ARCWERX looking for a unit that had additive manufacturing capability and was willing to take on responsibility of modeling and 3-D printing parts for the needs of the 75th Innovation Command,” said Master Sgt. Jason Howes, the Fabrication Section Supervisor for the 101st Maintenance Squadron. “We were able to answer this request and have been using 3-D printing for quite some time now.”
Since the 101st answered this call from ARCWERX, they gained the collaborative partnership of the detachment in Fort Belvoir, who are the test and evaluation detachment for the 75th Innovative CMD.
“We are a partner agency with the 75th that are required to test equipment for the Army Reserve,” said Army Lt. Col. David Goodman, commander of the Mission Command Technologies Integration Detachment. “The first time we got in contact with the 101st was to get parts that were initially just simple and easy to make.”
This blossoming partnership between the Air National Guard and Army Reserve units quickly picked up more steam as the 101st proved to be capable of mastering 3-D printing required parts for the 75th to test.
“The 75th wanted more,” said Goodman. “They wanted to see if the Army Reserve could expand from using small parts into using something bigger. Since I didn’t really understand 3-D printing or what the capabilities of the 101st was, we decided to have them come out to the unit and see what we do here and give us advice on what we could do to further push innovation and efficiency.”
The 101st did just that. Our MAINEiacs flew down to meet with the Fort Belvoir detachment on June 29th to not only collaborate with them, but to start to lay the groundwork for the goal ahead of both of these units.
“The end goal is to have other units ready and capable of printing 3-D model parts whenever necessary,” said Howes. “In doing this we’re also kind of getting rid of the separating lines in between military branches and looking at it as a multi-force collaboration.”
The efforts put forth between the 101st and the 75th seem to be far from over, as the teamwork between these two have been beneficial for both as the not only the Air Force mission, but also the Army mission moves forward.
“Our guys get the unique liberty to just kind of come up with ideas on parts to put on test crafts that we have here,” said Goodman. “So, our partnership that we have here can benefit both units. We get to test and see if our ideas are good and the 101st gets to test if their materials are strong enough to hold up against what we could buy on the market for parts as well.”
“From our perspective this unleashes our restraints that we’ve had in the past,” said Howes. “It feels like this is only the beginning.”