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AETC announces winners of iChallenge at FORCECON 2022

  • Published
  • By Nicholas J. De La Pena
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

Winners of the AETC iChallenge competition were announced during FORCECON 2022: Innovation – Technology – Gaming, an interactive industry and academia collider event and gaming competition held at the Tech Port Center and Arena in San Antonio, Texas, May 24-29.

Winners were chosen by a selection committee headed by Brig Gen. Caroline Miller, iChallenge committee chair. The remaining panel members are Dr. Wendy Walsh, AETC chief learning officer, Brig. Gen Brenda Cartier, AETC Operations and Communications director, Col. Casey Pombert, AETC chief of staff, Col. Shelly Mendieta, AETC Force Development deputy director, Col. Thomas Wegner, AETC Analysis and Innovation director, and Dr. Christine Burke, University of Texas at San Antonio Communication and Technology Transfer director.

“We're creating a system where entrepreneurs are focused on intrapreneurship and are looking to build new ideas and break how we've been doing things to be able to do them better within a system,” said Walsh. “Collaboration, perspective and ideas are so important. We need to mash that all up together so that we can make the Air Force and the nation better - those ideas only come from us working together.”

Each submission was scored based on three criteria - how well the idea addresses and supports force development gaps, its potential for impact, and ability of the presenter to articulate a path forward.

iChallenge Winners

First Place: Automated tool control and accountability

Mr. Donald Mitchell, 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Aircraft Fuel Systems flight chief, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The focus of this innovation Tool system is to provide 100% inventory 100% of time. By eliminating additional man-hours and costs, this platform will drastically increase aircraft production and maintenance response capabilities. The implementation of automated tool accountability systems will reduce the overall operating costs while increasing the effectiveness of maintenance operations.

First runner up: Leveraging Integrated Technology Platform 3D models for Language learning

Mr. Guy Stieglitz and Mr. Greg Foreman, Defense Language Institute English Language Center, ESL instructors, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Creating a VR lab specifically tailored for language learning will provide our international partners an enhanced language learning experience. The intent is to capitalize on existing Air Force resources and leverage internal expertise to make significant impact on student learning. The intent is to leverage the 3D models to save costs, easily make updates to the materials, and ensure the curriculum is aligned with the most current models/scenarios.

Second runner up: Validated Assessment Program for operation readiness (VAPOR)

Master Sgt. W. Douglas Gissendanner, 59th Medical Wing, 59th Medical Operations Squadron senior enlisted leader, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

A unique Department of Defense medical proving ground to improve operational medical readiness through a positive-feedback process improvement loop. VAPOR leverages commanders’ demand for higher quality and more efficient readiness activities to lowered training costs, streamline sustainment training efforts, improve rates of readiness and have perpetually ready medics.

“The 2022 iChallenge winners embody our need to modernize our learning opportunities and techniques to train Airmen and bridge our force development gaps and challenges,” Lt. Col. C.J. Hale, AETC Rapid Development Office chief, said. “Long-term U.S. military supremacy depends on our ability to rapidly innovate and be at the cutting edge of science and operational thought.”

Winners of each category were awarded $225,000, with runners up taking home $125,000. The next step is for the winners to connect with resources to further refine their ideas and collaborate with other innovators to build on lessons learned.

For more information about the iChallenge, contact HQ AETC/A9A, the Innovation Advancement Division, at or check out AETC’s innovation page on