NSIN Bootcamp series delivers tangible contracting, readiness and IT solutions

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The National Security Innovation Network recently held a series of three Team Hanscom-focused Bootcamp sessions at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Applied Research Corporation’s Northstar Campus in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

The NSIN-run program helps participants develop core innovation and design thinking skills to tackle real challenges for their organizations. Team Hanscom’s July Bootcamp focused on contracting challenges, the August session looked at solutions for managing and tracking readiness, and the third session, which culminated in an outbrief to base leaders on Oct. 5, concentrated on empowering Airmen to succeed in a dynamic information technology environment.

Capt. Sammantha Jones, the action officer for the October Bootcamp, said she was excited to be part of a unique opportunity to help solve some of the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, and Networks Directorate’s IT-related challenges.

“Within our division we are always challenged with keeping up with what’s going on when it comes to cyber technology and IT infrastructure,” she said. “Jasen Blacksburg, director of Logistics for the Enterprise IT and Cyber Infrastructure Division, came up with a wonderful problem statement to help define our mission for the Bootcamp and the collaboration between the participants has been amazing. We have some wonderful results.”

The October Bootcamp participants worked collaboratively on solutions for the challenge statement: “How might we better equip and educate our personnel for a rapidly changing IT environment and how might we construct training pathways to better educate our IT acquirers?”

The 24 Bootcamp participants from the C3I&N Directorate, the Digital Directorate, and the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems divided up into five teams, interviewing dozens of stakeholders to help them develop data-backed solutions.

“This [session] has been a three-day innovation quest,” said Nic Meliones, co-founder and CEO of Navi and one of NSIN’s Bootcamp delivery partners. “These teams have absolutely put in some incredible work. The goal is not just to use this Bootcamp as an effort to advance new theories of innovation, we’re focused on action and driving good outcomes.”

A panel of senior leaders from across Team Hanscom listened to all five teams pitch their proposed IT challenge solutions, which included starting a monthly, in person “introduction to IT” course to help personnel develop basic IT concepts; creating a “collaboration station” to offer actionable training and give users a networking and information sharing space; improving IT contractor workforce recognition and morale to minimize impacts of turnover; developing a collaborative, in person training program that incorporates industry experts to help personnel keep up with cutting edge technology; and establishing an IT “librarian role” to organize and manage a centralized repository for IT training resources and information.

Following each pitch, Col. Justin Collins, Enterprise IT and Cyber Infrastructure Division senior materiel leader, and his fellow panelists from C3I&N, CROWS, Contracting, and the 66th Air Base Group asked questions and provided personalized feedback and recommendations for each team. 

“These programs don’t happen on their own and when they do, there’s a magic that happens,” Collins said to the Bootcamp participants during his closing remarks. “I think we’ve seen some of the magic that has come out of the last three days and bringing the right team together to develop these solutions. We have a hugely talented workforce and spending some time to pause, tackle a problem and use your expertise and creativity to build some solutions is awesome.”

All five groups received approval to move forward with their pilot projects and ideas.

Col. Karen Landale, Hanscom AFB’s deputy director of Contracting, said the series produced several “ideas worth pursuing” and that contracting personnel continue to work on their Bootcamp project from the July session, which aims to standardize and streamline in-processing at Hanscom AFB.

“The follow-on efforts of the teams to turn their ideas into reality is a great exercise in how innovation happens,” she said. “It’s empowering! The best ‘product’ of the NSIN Bootcamps is the participants themselves. All of them walk away with design thinking skills and the experience of seeing how quickly their good ideas can be approved for implementation. The NSIN Bootcamp process helps create the ‘Air Force We Need.’”

For more information about NSIN’s Bootcamp program or to apply, visit https://www.nsin.mil/.