AEDC teams put problem-solving skills to use during AFTC Hackathon

  • Published
  • By Deidre Moon
  • AEDC Public Affairs

Arnold Engineering Development Complex team members, along with other Airmen from across the three wings, participated in the second Air Force Test Center Data Hackathon in March to find innovative solutions to issues being faced by the organizations.

Over the course of the weeklong event, held March 14-18, the “hackers” from AEDC in Tennessee, the 412th Test Wing in California and the 96th Test Wing in Florida, used their skills and expertise to work toward common goals.

“One of the main purposes of the event is to get us experience in using cloud-based environments and other tools to help create solutions across the Air Force,” said Jonathan Lister, a lead test analyst with the Hypersonic Systems Test Branch, Test Division, AEDC.

Lister, whose team is known as GeoAgnAs, spent the week looking at the best way to do analysis no matter where a team is working from, whether that is at Arnold Air Force Base or any other location or base. For this effort, GeoAgnAs received the Most Impactful award out of the six teams that participated.

“GeoAgnAs stands for geographically agnostic analysis, and we’re looking at how we could provide support out at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as well as them providing support to us here,” he said.

Jarrett Starbuck, a test analyst also with the AEDC Hypersonic Systems Test Branch, added that working quickly and effectively is important when it comes to data analysis.

“The number one focus of the National Defense Strategy is on hypersonic systems, and supporting that will require faster analysis,” Starbuck said. “Therefore, we need to be able to effectively integrate data analysis across the Air Force.” 

Dr. Justin Garrard, a Reliability Engineering manager at Arnold, and member of the second AEDC team participating in the Hackathon, identified a need for facility maintenance data analysis.

“We want to take the aggregate data we collect on our facilities and actually use it to make data-driven decisions,” Garrard said. “By using this data to make smarter, proactive, condition-based decisions about performing maintenance, we can help lower the total outage timelines and increase test throughput.”

On the last day of the Hackathon, leadership from the wings served as judges and rated each team’s solutions based on creativity, mission impact, completeness and overall score.

But Brandon Stiles, AEDC Test Support Division chief engineer, also noted that the main goal isn’t who has the better idea but to collaborate and find solutions.

“The Data Hackathon is a great opportunity for different organizations to spend a few days together to solve specific problems and make strides toward innovative solutions,” Stiles said. “Like Col. Lincoln Bonner, our AEDC Test Division chief says, ‘There is brilliance in the basics.’ So, when we see opportunities, we need to take them, and that’s what we’re doing here.”

The Hackathons are slated to occur quarterly, and the Data Hackathon representatives encourage more people from any career, regardless of skillset, to participate. If interested in participating in the next Data Hackathon, call 661-524-4672.