RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
An innovative idea by a pair of Team Randolph civilians helped save the Air Force more than $1 million.
Joe Rippke and Glenn Williams, with the 12th Operations Support Squadron Flight, came up with an idea to allow the AT-38 weapons system simulator room enough space to operate as needed with the machines in place as they are.
A reward of $10,000 was split by the men after they were cited with one of the Air Force's annual Innovative Development of Employee Awareness, or IDEA, awards.
"They are truly exceptional innovators," said Colonel King, "Our simulators have been in place for a while now and we were actually able to start training with this equipment six months ahead of the projected start time."
Randolph implemented the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals weapons system in early 2008 and had initially thought an expansion of Bldg. 738 would be needed to align the installation of the machinery with required specifications.
"What it involved was a potential expansion of our building in order to maintain safety standards," said Mr. Williams, Trainer Aircraft Flight Simulator quality assurance representative. "Civil engineering, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, did a site survey and determined that $1.4 million would be needed to expand the building and create room to operate in there."
Expansion was needed, the survey said, so that enough space would be available for the cockpits of the Weapons System Trainers to occasionally be removed from the simulators for maintenance and cleaning.
The civilian innovators met with officials from 12th OSS, AETC, Randolph's Flight Safety division and Boeing contractors to get ideas on exactly what might be necessary to properly install the simulators.
Getting the respective parties together like that is what's known as a Site Action Task Force and the men took information away from those meetings that helped them come up with their plan. The overall objective regarding the Talon simulators was to support, install and implement.
After the meeting, Mr. Rippke, an Instructor Flight Simulator project officer, and Mr. Williams began mulling potential scenarios. They came up with the idea to install fire-proof roll-up doors in main bay of the existing space in Building 738. That construction, to be done by a contractor, came at a cost of under $350,000.
"Initially, the plan was to build an extension to the building and put one of the two new simulators there, while installing the second one in the existing bay," Lt. Col. Brent King, 12th OSS commander, said. "Mr. Rippke and Mr. Williams studied it and thought they might be able to redesign the existing bay."
The roll-up doors allowed for usage of a 10-foot wide hallway, beyond the cinder block walls that encompass the simulator bay. Using the extra space, there would be plenty of room to remove, maintain and re-install the cockpits.
Mr. Rippke and Mr. Williams will now compete for an Air Force-level award.
"We are a two-man shop with quality assurance here, so Joe and I contributed equally to what was done," Mr. Williams said. "We were trying to get the simulators in as early as possible because the training being done with these things involves some unique ideas that our Airmen benefit from. The sooner the better, we were thinking."
Submissions for potential IDEA awards for individuals at Randolph can be made through the office of Christine Bucholz at 652-2590.