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Air University Research: AY20 RTF Innovation

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The Innovation Research Task Force (iRTF) combined AWC, SOS, and ACSC Students to explore innovation methodologies. The original concept was for AWERX to fund faculty development and for the faculty to in turn teach to the students. AFWERX through the A8 agreed to fund $100k a year for two years. Funding was held up and when funds were available the iRTF was offered $200k to execute in roughly 4 months. iRTF turned the money back to AFWERX and taught a curriculum largely based on previous elective years. Student reviews were high.

Course Intent

Explore what curriculum was offered by other entities to include Stanford’s, University of Michigan’s Innovatrium, Harvard, Cambridge, as well as several corporate entities. Faculty would then build curriculum for AU students.

Course Execution

Despite the funding issues—the course executed well. iRTF hosted 20 students from both AWC and ACSC. The students formed five teams all of which were invited to pitch their ideas and innovative concepts at SxSW (South by SouthWest). COVID prevented the students from presenting. 3 of 5 teams presented virtually. One individual pitched his idea to MGMWERX.

Areas for Improvement

Clearly the agreement with AFWERX and A8 required deeper staffing. The agreement was reached with the A8 via a “Freestyle Friday” pitch. We followed up with documentation to Air University via the Integration Cell and a briefing to Gen Cotton which included the ACSC/CC. The original agreement was $100k per year beginning as early as August 2019. Funding was not made available until March/April 2020 in a lump sum of $200k.

Faculty: each team required a coach, we had an AWC rep and ACSC reps—began with 8 faculty and ended with roughly one. Some faculty were pulled off the task force for work related issues, some had other teaching obligations, one PCA’d. If we are teaching across schools, we need some mechanism for accountability.

For AY21: iRTF will return to a two quarter ACSC elective via Innovators by Design for the foreseeable future.

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