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Altus Spark Cell encourages Airmen to innovate

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Gadoury, the assistant flight commander of current operations assigned to the 97th Operations Support Squadron, showcases the software used to design and produce 3D objects, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Members can use the software to design models or search the internet for designs already made by others. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Molzhon, the superintendent of the Wing Innovation Advancement Center assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, demonstrates one of the practical uses for creating 3D models used at the 97th Air Mobility Wing, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The center was utilized to make a 3D model of the air space and surrounding area used by air traffic controllers at Altus AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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A 3D printer produces a prototype at the Wing Innovation Advancement Center, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. A variety of materials can be used in the construction of models by the 3D printer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Gadoury, the assistant flight commander of current operations assigned to the 97th Operations Support Squadron, talks about the different capabilities at the Wing Innovation Advancement Center,

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Gadoury, the assistant flight commander of current operations assigned to the 97th Operations Support Squadron, talks about the different capabilities at the Wing Innovation Advancement Center, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. There are two different types of 3D printers available at the center for produces types of materials and sizes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Molzhon, the superintendent of the Wing Innovation Advancement Center assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, showcases one of the failed attempts to make a model at the Wing Innovation Advancement Center, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Several subject matter experts are available at the center to assist in the creation and design process for easy access of base members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Gadoury, the assistant flight commander of current operations assigned to the 97th Operations Support Squadron, displays one of the intricate models that the Wing Innovation Advancement Center can produce, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. In the printing process, easily removable support beams are printed to make intricate designs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

Jeffery Lee, the chief of the Wing Innovation Advancement Center assigned to the 97th Force Support Squadron, explains some of the real life applications that the center can assist with,

Jeffery Lee, the chief of the Wing Innovation Advancement Center assigned to the 97th Force Support Squadron, explains some of the real life applications that the center can assist with, Feb. 10, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The center was established as a venue for the 97th AMW to think creatively and explore software, equipment and utilizing models. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Airmen of the 97th Air Mobility Wing attended a demonstration of the software and equipment utilized by the Wing Innovation Advancement Center, Feb. 10, 2020. The center was established as a venue for members of the 97th AMW to think creatively and explore software, equipment and models.

The demonstration at the center, also known as Spark Cell, shows that 3D printing is not difficult and can be used by Airmen to build prototypes of their ideas to enhance or improve daily tasks.

“Once we have the prototype and it meets form, fit and function, we build an actual functioning item that can be tested to ensure it meets expectations of specifications and removes the problem,” said Jeffery Lee, the chief of the Wing Innovation Advancement Center assigned to the 97th Force Support Squadron. “After the testing is completed, production of the final product can be accomplished or shared with others.”

The facility is open to all members of the installation and can be accessed at all hours to allow any member to make their innovative ideas to reality. One instance of its application was idea to make a model of the 97th AMW’s airspace.

“3D printing is a hobby of mine since before I joined the Air Force; I heard about the Spark Cell and thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved in,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Navarette, an air traffic controller assigned to the 97th Operations Support Squadron. “During the beginning of my training, for me being a visual learner, it was difficult to understand the 2D depiction of our airspace. This idea was a way to familiarize myself with the equipment used in the Spark Cell center as well as show what the center is there for. I hope my idea can be there as a visual reference and training tool for new incoming Airmen and inspire others with ideas to utilize the Spark Cell.”

Bringing these ideas to life may seem like an daunting task, but the facility has several points of contact to aide in the implementation process.

“Mentors are an important aspect of development, especially in a field that is not very-well understood,” said Capt. Kyle Gadoury, the assistant flight commander of current operations assigned to the 97th OSS.  “My goal is to share any knowledge I have in order to better equip our Airmen who have potential solutions for the unknown problems. We need to get more people involved in order for those issues to be brought to light. Most of what I have learned was self-taught through hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours on YouTube, GitHub, and other similar websites.”

For more information about the Wing Innovation Advancement Center or Sparkcell, talk to the center’s chief, Jeffery Lee at (580) 481-6350 from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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