HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Hanscom Airmen were recently recognized in an Air Force-wide competition for their technological innovation through robotic process automation.
Air Force senior leaders named Hanscom’s Bouncer Bot “Best Robot for Business Impact” of ‘Rise of the Digital Wingman,’ a vice chief of staff-directed competition. Judges for this category recognized the submission for being time- and cost-saving, and its ability to “do more with less.”
“I’m really proud of our team here,” said William Ross, Communications and Information Division (SC) director here. “They’ve had a direct impact on our mission efficiency and they’re solving problems at the squadron level.”
‘Rise of the Digital Wingman’ was a robotic process automation-specific competition that challenged Airmen across the force to find innovative ways to use the bots and give time back to Airmen.
Collaborating with UiPath, a global software company that develops platforms for RPA, more than 500 Airmen, including six from Hanscom, received training and mentoring on the bots’ software and coding.
“We wanted to let people know that you don’t need to be a programmer or have a foundation in coding to make this work,” said Bill Nystrom, UiPath RPA evangelist and Air Force account executive. “In fact, only two of the 97 challenge participants had any previous programming experience.”
Officials from SC submitted Bouncer Bot to the VCSAF competition after implementing the bot at the Visitor Control Center here, where it assists Hanscom defenders in completing background security checks on guests entering the installation.
Instead of entering a guests’ information into various systems by hand, Bouncer Bot automatically pulls names and dates directly from a driver license bar code and can approve or deny entry in a matter of seconds.
Officials from the 66th Security Forces Squadron say Bouncer Bot has reduced the VCC process by 75 percent, allowing the squadron to refocus 260 manpower days a year from administrative tasks to security.
“Hanscom is no joke,” said Nystrom. “The team really sees and understands the strategic value of this, and they produce results.”
The SC team is already planning on expanding the RPA presence on base to assist other organizations and maximize efficiency wherever it can.
“We’re looking at all the bots that were submitted in the competition, and we’re seeing what’s available for us to utilize at Hanscom, expand on, or even develop,” said James Newbrough, SC Process Improvement practitioner here. “We want to make a difference, not just at the base level, but for every Airman, civilian and contractor in the force.”
Lt. Col. Taylor Herron, executive officer to the VCSAF and competition action officer, said the panel judges were blown away by the collaboration and innovation showcased in the submissions.
“There’s a difference between an Airman pointing out a problem, and an Airman rolling up their sleeves to fix it,” he said. “This competition showed us that our Airmen are ready to innovate and do the work.”
Herron said senior leaders are making every effort to give time back to Airmen so they can focus on tomorrow’s fight.