AFWERX-Vegas Presents 3-D Printer to DC Elementary School
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Top U.S. Air Force leaders and researchers, along with DEFENSEWERX’s AFWERX Vegas team members, joined forces with tomorrow’s Airmen in a special youth event celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) themes held recently at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
Working alongside displays of historic aircraft from U.S. history, Airmen in flight-suits offered museum-goers hands-on demonstrations of robotics, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, 3-D printers, flight simulators, and other technologies.
As part of the March event, DEFENSEWERX officials, in partnership with Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), announced the donation of a brand new 3-D printer to the students and teachers of Thomsen Elementary School, a Title 1 school located at 1200 L Street NW, Washington, D.C. The formal presentation of the AFWERX Vegas equipment took place at the school in a separate event April 3, when Innovation Actuallizer Mark Rowland engaged students in conversations about technology, innovation, and human potential.
The most-crucial component to the printer isn’t just hardware, Rowland says. “Working with today’s Airmen, business leaders, and academics, we know that what really drives innovation is human imagination and know-how. That’s why we’re committing the technical support of our own lab coordinator, Matt Viton, toward putting this technology to work at Thomsen.”
“We also hope that this tool might help inspire students toward becoming tomorrow’s pilots, inventors, and Airmen,” Rowland says. “Children have the best imaginations, and there’s something special about being able to play a part in transforming their ideas into reality. Some of the class even challenged us to a design competition of their own!”
The AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub was started in 2017 and is funded by the U.S. Air Force to support outreach to the business and academic communities. The location is one of three AFWERX Innovation Hubs—the others are in Austin, Texas and the District of Columbia. Each serves as a nexus for generating and hosting activities—whether on-site, online, or on-base—focused on delivering design solutions to Air Force problems faster, more effectively, and more efficiently than in the past.
Military personnel supporting the March STEM event included those from the Air Force District of Washington, headquartered at Joint Base Andrews, Md., as well as the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Team members from AFWERX and DEFENSEWERX also participated.
The STEM fair coincided with the March 2019 release of Marvel Studio’s most recent superhero film, “Captain Marvel,” which features the fictional character of Carol Danvers, a former Air Force officer and fighter pilot. Danvers is played by actress Brie Larson.
One notable real-life “star” participating in the March STEM event was Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, current commander of Air Force Recruiting Service, with whom Larson informally consulted in developing her character’s role. Leavitt, a F-15E pilot with more than 3,000 hours logged in that and other aircraft, also holds degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Aerospace Engineering.
Leavitt is also a former commander of the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The Las Vegas-area unit is celebrated as the Air Force’s most-diverse, comprising more than 130 different types of aircraft.
As envisioned by U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in 2017, AFWERX is intended to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces in an “outside the fence” environment, through innovation and collaboration amongst our nation’s top subject-matter experts. The world is changing quickly—new technologies, new threats, and new opportunities.
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To learn more about AFWERX on-line innovations challenges, visit: www.afwerxchallenge.com
The AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub, located adjacent to the fabulous Las Vegas Strip taps into the power of creativity and empowers intentional innovation that unleashes emergent approaches for the warfighter through a community of intrapreneurs, industry, academia, and non-traditional contributors. AFWERX has the ability to bring together the nation’s best and brightest to collaborate, innovate, fabricate, and present accelerated results to the United States Air Force to better serve the No. 1 customer: the warfighter and operators in the U.S. Air Force.
Doing business as DEFENSEWERX, the 501(c)(3) non-profit Doolittle Institute was established in 2012 and named in honor of James “Jimmy” Doolittle, aeronautical engineering pioneer and commander of a celebrated bomber raid on Tokyo during World War II. The entity is headquartered in Niceville, Fla. DEFENSEWERX is a family of collaborative technology transfer activities that includes AFWERX Vegas , which supports innovations across the U.S. Air Force; SOFWERX, which supports U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.; and MGMWERX, which supports Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
Headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the Air Force Research Laboratory is a global technical enterprise, leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for the United States’ air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 10,000 across nine technical directorates and 40 other operations across the globe, the organization provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology that range from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.