Air Force Academy Welcomes Commercial Companies to Advance Military Technology
As technology develops at a faster pace than ever before, industries are working overtime to keep up with current trends and best practices. To adapt to these changes, one Colorado Springs entity is working hard to stay ahead of the pack: The U.S. Air Force Academy. Through the joint efforts of cadets, professors and commercial companies, the Air Force Academy is finding new technology-based solutions for an array of military challenges through a unique program called CyberWorx.
Established in 2016, CyberWorx is a design-centric program offered to airmen and cadets who are interested in technology development. Through a series of “sprints” – projects that can span days, weeks, or months – teams of cadets work with outside commercial experts to uncover creative new solutions for various problems in the military. For example, last fall cadets showcased their development of an AI software designed to plan airstrikes and save planners several stressful hours of data-crunching. They also created a smart phone application that would help the Air Force keep better track of its gear. During these projects, the teams received input from Microsoft, LinQuest, and Vigilant.
Recently, CyberWorx announced several exciting new projects:
- CyberWorx Open Design Challenge – Focused around technology and airman fitness, this new sprint is the first-ever CyberWorx challenge that is open to the public and is anticipated to draw submissions from all across the country. Companies, teams and individuals are asked to design and develop a fitness application that could provide health monitoring, personalized fitness coaching, or medical alerts to help improve the overall health and readiness of airmen. On Sept. 14, the top four participants will be selected to do a live virtual pitch to CyberWorx and the Air Force A1 Office, and a winner will be selected and receive $20,000.
- New Five-Year Partnership With AT&T – To help develop technologies at a pace more like that of the commercial sector, the Air Force Academy has partnered AT&T to offer knowledge and commercial best practices surrounding cybersecurity, Internet of Things, and other AT&T-led innovations for the Air Force Academy faculty. AT&T will also provide hands-on demonstrations of modern technologies with cadets and explore future collaboration opportunities with the Air Force beyond academic interests.
- CyberWorx Facility Expansion – With such great success of CyberWorx, the Air Force Academy is already looking to expand into a new 40,000 square foot building. This space will boast state-of-the-art immersive labs capable of running 10 projects at once. The facility will house all cyber-related programs at the Academy, including CyberWorx, USAFA Department of Computer and Cyber Sciences, the Academy Center for Cyberspace Research, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Innovation. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act has already approved $30 million in funding for the new facility, with U.S. Air Force Academy Endowment is expected to support the rest of the costs. Construction is slated to begin in 2019.
Colorado Springs is an ideal place for programs such as CyberWorx because of its robust IT & cybersecurity ecosystem. The region is the home of the National Cybersecurity Center, five military installations and 125+ cybersecurity companies. Military and commercial sectors are working together to develop talent, strengthen companies and stay one step ahead of potential cybersecurity threats. To learn more about initiatives like CyberWorx in Colorado Springs, visit the Information Technology & Cybersecurity page for more information and updates on new company developments.