Air Force Featured Stories

Project Arc seeks innovators to solve DAF challenges

  • Published
  • By Matthew Clouse
  • AFWERX

Project Arc, a grassroots initiative started in 2020 to spur innovation within the Department of the Air Force, is accepting applications for its next six-month temporary duty, or TDY, assignment July 17 to Aug. 4. The program is looking for Airmen and Guardians from all occupations who are obsessed with tech, have a curiosity to tinker and want to solve problems.

“We want people that are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math, and joined the military to use those skills to solve warfighter problems,” said Maj. Jason Goins, Project Arc founder.

The TDY is funded by Project Arc and embeds military members and government civilians into operational wings around the world. They will work with pilots, maintainers, logisticians and other technical DAF jobs to apply state-of-the-art technology, experimentation, prototyping and rapid adaptation to help outpace technology used by U.S. adversaries.

“Project Arc provided me the opportunity to see the other side of the Air Force, the side that allows for agile growth, experimentation, and acceptance of engineering failure,” said Airman First Class Hannah Garwood, project arc engineer. “For me personally, my technical skills broadened due to the variety of subject matter experts and engineers Project Arc brings together. I saw myself grow exponentially in electronic design and implementation, data analytics, 3D printing, network troubleshooting, project management, and most importantly, confidence to speak up.”

Project Arc currently has 20 people participating in its six-month TDY at bases in the U.S. and overseas. Goins says the length of the TDY gives people time to build relationships before solving the problem.

“Our model is about building the relationship first and then solving the problem second because what we found is that when it's transactional, you don't really get a lot of innovation,” Goins said. “You get a lot of modernization, which is fine, but I think a lot of people can do that. I’m looking for people who want to think about a whole new way of doing something that changes the way we fight.”

The program measures success by the number of unit commanders that adopt their model through funding or manning resources. According to Goins, Project Arc saved the Air Force $7.5 million and 30,000 man-hours through eight successful initiatives in the first two months of 2023. Some of their recent accomplishments include:

-Developing an onboard crane system to load and unload cargo in the KC-135 Stratotanker. The crane system eliminates the need for a forklift or scissor truck and can be stored in the aircraft within one cargo pallet position and assembled by two crew members in 30 minutes or less.

-Constructing a removal tool for the F-16 Fighting Falcon finger brace, a part that connects the wing to the body of the aircraft. Maintenance requires a complete replacement of the wing when a finger brace is damaged, costing roughly $1 million. The removal tool eliminates recurring causes of damage, saving roughly $9 million annually.

-Working with the Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, contracting office to develop tools in the programming software that automatically redacts sensitive information on contracts and tracks their status through completion, a process that could take up to three hours per contract. Contracting officials are now able to expedite the timeline for contract approvals while maintaining security protocols.

 To apply or learn more about Project Arc, email ProjectArc@us.af.mil.