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2017 Innovation Challenge: AETC lauds Continuum of Learning efforts

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jose R. Davis
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, TEXAS--Air Education and Training Command will announce this year’s five winners of the 2017 Innovation Challenge during the AETC Senior Leader Conference held at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., March 19-21.


Winning units will receive a monetary award to be used for any operations and maintenance fund purchases.


The Innovation Challenge, a contest designed to inspire improvement and change within the command, consists of five categories that emphasize the priorities of both the Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast, commander of AETC, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.


“The challenge gives units an opportunity to highlight their respective innovative accomplishments,” said Sean A. Harrington, AETC Innovation and Transformation Division chief, and lead organizer of the Innovation Challenge. “Although there are five winners, in the end AETC as a whole benefits from sharing and exploiting their innovations.”


The Continuum of Learning is career-long learning, instituting a new educational model that develops Airmen through challenging experiences combined with education and training. Instead of emphasizing learning in the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom or through some static online platform, the new educational model integrates various modes of learning throughout Airmen’s careers, like “modularized learning” or learning on-demand (i.e. when and where the learning is actually needed). The CoL is an innovative, new learning initiative with the goal to reestablish the Air Force as a learning organization, according to the Innovation and Transformation Division at AETC.


“This year’s challenge focuses on how innovations have advanced the CoL within respective units and across the command,” said Harrington. “The five challenge categories were each redefined with a Continuum of Learning twist.”


The “Institutional Culture” category is intended for units to show how members understand, support and apply CoL methods across their range of mission sets. The “Mission Accomplishment” category is intended for units to show how redesigned developmental offerings resulted in more effective and efficient learning. Two other categories were specifically focused on how CoL concepts were adopted to further the CSAF’s priorities of enhancing Airman development within the squadron and expanding the joint and multi-domain warfighting abilities of Airmen. The final category is the “Adapt Award,” which includes units displaying where CoL innovation was attempted, failed to achieve desired results, but valuable lessons were learned nonetheless.    


Wings and units across AETC submitted nominations for any category in the CoL-centric Innovation Challenge. Kwast will announce the winners at the end of the SLC conference. 

“Our forefathers recognized what it takes to remain relevant: humility and the desire to learn. And, that’s what we do here in AETC,” said Kwast. “We teach the next generation of Airmen how to learn more rapidly than their adversaries. We teach them how to innovate more broadly across a series of networks to see more ideas. And, we teach them how to network and build trust with other human beings.”

The 10 finalists for the 2017 Innovation Challenge are:

Institutional Culture:

  • 12th Flying Training Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB, Okla.

Mission Accomplishment:

  • 81st Training Wing, Keesler AFB, Miss.
  • Jeanne M. Holm Center, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Priority #1:

  • 17th Training Wing, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
  • 42 Air Base Wing, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Priority #2:

  • 80th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard AFB, Texas
  • Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

Adapt Award

  • 37th Training Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
  • 82nd Training Wing, Sheppard AFB, Texas

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