The Art of the Challenge: Air Force Visionary Q-Prize

23.10.18 03:56 AM By Jennie Hempstead

There is a lot of work to be done before you can share your problems with the world, especially if you want the right solutions. The Wright Brothers Institute has successfully run multiple challenges, sprints and hack-a-thons for the Air Force Research Laboratory since our doors opened in 2002. An essential component of success is the homework. This includes deconstructing the problem, targeting the right kind of problem-solving approach and embracing uncertainty. Factors such as timing and bandwidth are also key considerations for choosing the right challenge. When we were approached by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate and Air Force Space Command to solve a “space junk” problem, an Open Innovation Challenge, with ideas submitted from all over the globe, looked like the right fit.

With over 21,000 pieces of space junk tracked by Air Force personnel, there is a need to improve Space Situational Awareness and keep critical satellites functioning properly. We designed the “Bad Week in Space” challenge to highlight awareness gaps that can jeopardize critical Air Force and commercial satellites. Leveraging the Numerica Corporation, we developed a database containing two weeks’ worth of tracking data that captured flaws with the current user interface. Once the right evaluation criteria was developed, we connected with Innocentive to host this challenge and manage the responses. Having a platform that can quickly accept and curate responses is essential during the evaluation process. All of our work was performed alongside the Air Force Space Command, who also created buzz around the challenge with a teaser video and increased visibility from Brigadier General William Liquori at the MassChallenge Awards 2018.

Video courtesy of Air Force Space Command

This challenge will go live on 26 Oct 2018 at the Air Force Challenge Pavilion on the Innocentive site. To read more, download the official press release from Air Force Space Command. Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the Q-Prize Challenge!

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