DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
Innovation has been pivotal to our nation’s progress throughout history, and it remains integrally important in today’s competitive world.
“One hundred ten years ago this month, Wilbur Wright gave the first flying lesson to a military member, Lt. Benjamin Foulois,” said Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air force. “Fifty years ago, Airmen Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were part of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Today, test pilots like Maj. Rachael Winiecki are developing the F-35 into our newest weapon system to connect the Joint Force across Air, Space, and Cyberspace.”
Bedrock – Dover’s innovation foundation – is a hothouse for tinkerers and problem-solvers and a wellspring of creativity and mental flexibility, producing the kinds of minds the Air Force will need to win the technological wars of the future.
“Bedrock is Dover's attempt at creating a Phoenix Spark Hub,” said Maj. Patterson Hill, 436th Airlift Wing chief of innovation. “A few years ago, Travis Air Force Base created the first innovation hub and named it Phoenix Spark. Since then, it has taken off. Roughly 50 different bases have innovation hubs … Bedrock is the hub for Dover Air Force Base."
Team Dover Airmen who possess vision and an entrepreneurial spirit now have an oasis where they can meet likeminded people and cultivate each other’s ideas, all while improving their respective workplaces and advancing the Air Force.
“Even if it is something simple, nothing is too big or small for us to help you figure it out,” said Staff Sgt. Peter Cannizzaro, 9th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.
Bedrock also provides Team Dover an opportunity to volunteer their knowledge and skills to improve the base.
“One of the coolest things that we offer is, if you know how to program, we will find an app for you to make. If you know how to 3D print, we will find you something to make with one of our printers,” said Hill.
Cannizzaro mentioned a primary focus for Bedrock is helping people come up with solutions to problems they encounter during the course of their daily duties.
“For too many years, we have people that just deal with problems in their shops … They know there is better ways to do it, but there is not really any way for them to make a change,” said Cannizzaro. “So, they now have a spot … where they can come over here and tell us what their problems are. We will then help them find a solution – And we have the resources and muscle behind us to get things done.”
Bedrock boasts a plethora of projects, but a recent highly “visible” one is the implementation of lights at the base gates, which display to incoming cars which traffic lanes into the gate are open.
Hill said the gate light project was an idea Team Dover had been chasing for two to three years: “They thought it would cost about $30,000 … And the contractor came back and said it would cost more like $125,000. When we found out how much money they were trying to spend, we said we can do it for about $2,000. We saved a lot of money … and accomplished that task, saving taxpayers dollars.”
Currently, Bedrock meets every Friday at noon in Building 630. Interested Airmen can also submit problems they observe or propose ideas and solutions to https://www.doverspark.org/.
“Come on by,” said Hill, “Our door will always be open.”