JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -The thought of electrical airfield lighting system upgrades first came to Senior Airman Jordan Pitts at technical training.

"We get taught how to operate the system and immediately you can tell it's archaic and relies on elbow grease to operate," said Pitts, an electrical systems journeyman at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. "The first thing I noticed was the install limitation of the cable reel and its operation. I've heard of many other attempts to overhaul the system that failed. So I decided that instead of trying to undo what already worked, modifying the system would be way more efficient and easier."

Pitts submitted his idea to the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center's Innovation Office as part of its "Call for Innovation" campaign which ran Jan. 1-31. The campaign received 122 submissions and more than 2,000 online votes. Pitts' idea was one of eight selected to advance to AFIMSC's inaugural "Innovation Rodeo" March 1 in San Antonio.
Competitors with the top three ideas will receive $200,000 each to get their ideas to prototype via AFWERX and tech accelerators.

"Our senior leaders have committed to participating in weeklong events, where it's all about the Airmen and their ideas," said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC chief innovation officer. "We want to transition those ideas into the innovation ecosystem and AFWERX challenges so we can get those ideas into prototype and then the implementation phase across the I&MS enterprise."

Pitts said his idea is fairly straightforward, but still only on paper.

"More answers will come after progress has been physically made," Pitts said. "The 'innovation' is directly related to Air Force equipment and the equipment should be redone and outfitted to be more modernized. I see no further need to put a Band-Aid on a problem of outdated equipment."

The other finalists were:

• Installation Access Control of the Future / Artificial Intelligence Facial Recognition, submitted by Lt. Col. Carlos Hernandez, Air Force Security Forces Center, JBSA-Lackland and Col. Jeffrey York, 31st Mission Support Group commander, Aviano AB, Italy. Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander at Aviano, will present on behalf of York.
• Virtual Visitor Control Center/ Visitor Kiosk, submitted 2nd Lt. DJ Smith, 502nd Communications Squadron, JBSA-Lackland, Steven Dews, 502nd SFS, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and Tech Sgt. Brian Lawley, 802nd SFS, JBSA-Lackland, and Senior Master Sgt. Alvin Arguello, AFSFC.
• "What's Up" App, submitted by Col. Houston Cantwell, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., who will be accompanied by a USAFA cadet.
• Supply Inventory Management System App, submitted by Master Sgt. Nicole Haun, 87th MSG, JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, who will be accompanied by two contractors.
• An app to assist in contracting officer representative duties, submitted by Roger Westermeyer, Air Force Installation Contracting Agency enterprise sourcing support director. Lt. Col. Karen Landale, 773rd ESS, will present on behalf of Westermeyer.
• Leverage existing Geospatial Information System AI learning for facility roof inspections, submitted by 2nd Lt. Alexander Bow, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron, JB-Lewis McChord, Washington, and Capt. Gregory Hege, Air Force Central Command, Al Udeid, Iraq. Hege is deployed, and Bow is partnering with 1st Lt. Tim Sobieski, 627th ABG, JBLM.
• Self-adjusting wide area detection using unmanned ground vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles, submitted by John Shackell, AFSFC.