Inside McConnell: ‘Putting the power back into the hands of the airmen’

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – McConnell Air Force is showing the base’s creative side with an inside look of its Innovation Lab — a place where airmen get to put their hobbies to good use.

“We’re finding all these hidden talents in the most unexpected places,” said Flight Chief Clayton Allen, Wing Innovation Lab. “You’ve got this airman that’s got this hobby or maybe it was a part profession, now they’re in some other, non-related career field and you’re giving them the ability to do what they love to solve an air force problem.”

The lab focuses on solving problems that occur within the wing of aircraft and the other part is on being an airmen maker-space.

Airmen have the ability to work in the Innovation Lab for six to seven months. They can be as creative as they want. They can make things that they need or make things they think are going to be vital to tomorrow’s air force.

“We’re trying to start a movement. The movement is to let the airmen solve the problems,” said Flight Chief Allen. “Within the lab whenever we develop on projects, a lot of times that leads to something clever or unique. This opens up the opportunity for our airmen to take this concept and develop it to a point where we can put it into the hands of a patent attorney for the Air Force.”

The lab also works with the community on STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outreach projects. They airmen work with students to learn control services giving them knowledge about how airplanes fly. They also work with students at WSU showing them welding, painting, and assembly of artsy aircraft.

“We are finding ways to solve the problems so that the warfighter can stay in the fight,” said Chief Allen.


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