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RATPAC Fractal packs in acquisition education

Attendees, including military members in civilian attire, at the 2018 Hanscom Air Force Base Revolutionary Acquisition Techniques, Procedures and Collaboration (RATPAC) Fractal event pore over a challenge problem, Oct. 25, in the Hanscom Conference Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. Organizers said business casual clothes encouraged attendees to freely exchange of ideas during the academic challenge portion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki)

Attendees, including military members in civilian attire, at the 2018 Hanscom Air Force Base Revolutionary Acquisition Techniques, Procedures and Collaboration (RATPAC) Fractal event pore over a challenge problem, Oct. 25, in the Hanscom Conference Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. Organizers said business casual clothes encouraged attendees to freely exchange of ideas during the academic challenge portion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Junior acquisition professionals from every Hanscom directorate attended a three-day training event to inspire creative solutions to acquisition challenges, Oct. 23 to 25 in the Hanscom Conference Center.

The event, called a Revolutionary Acquisition Techniques, Procedures and Collaboration Fractal, featured a Hanscom program executive officer, Pentagon acquisition leaders and other military procurement personnel.

“We underestimate how much our junior force understands the challenges we face,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Schmidt, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks program executive officer here. “The best thing I see them do is hear ‘no’ and decide that they’re going to try to get to ‘yes’ anyway, even when it presents some difficulties.”

Schmidt attended much of the conference and mentored attendees on the last day, when they presented solutions to real-world challenges they face within their own programs. While the assignment provided a chance to flex creative thinking, attendees absorbed presentations and engaged in academic discussions much of the time.

“We’re just hoping people get new ideas out of this, and go back to their jobs invigorated,” said 2nd Lt. Greg Barrow, a program manager with C3I&N who helped organize the RATPAC Fractal. “We’re not looking for RAPTAC people to recreate how we buy weapons systems, but if everyone can walk away from this with a new way of looking at their specific job, then this is a success.”

Attendees were a mix of active duty and civilian personnel representing PEO Digital, C3I&N and the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Integration Directorate. Every attendee was able to wear business casual clothes during the conference, in order to encourage the free exchange of ideas.

“From my level, the challenge with going fast is that it still takes resources,” said Susan Thornton, director of Air Force Information Dominance programs at the Pentagon, who oversees many weapons systems acquired and sustained by Hanscom’s workforce. Thornton also had served previously as the director of Engineering and Technical Management for the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom. “You can create better plans, and you can work smarter, but you can’t innovate more money. We happen to be at a peak. The budget is probably the best it could possibly get, but that just means we need to realize that how we use all that money makes all the difference.”