59th MDW: Alamo Spark Cell drives innovation throughout the Air Force

US Air Force Medicine | 2021-11-18

By Airman 1st Class Melody Bordeaux, 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

Hauversburk is the artificial intelligence and machine learning team lead of the Alamo Spark Cell and coordinates problem solving, solution implementation, industry outreach, and training. The Alamo Spark Cell created virtual and augmented reality supplemental training aids and set up a space with virtual reality headsets within the student dormitory.
Tech. Sgt. Timothy Bilbrey, 382nd Training Squadron biomedical equipment technician course instructor, demonstrates virtual reality education material at the Medical Technology Education and Training Campus, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Oct. 29, 2021. The Alamo Spark Cell created virtual and augmented reality supplemental training aids and set up a space with virtual reality headsets within the student dormitory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Melody Bordeaux)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (AFNS) -- Throughout the Air Force, teams referred to as Spark Cells serve as a hub for innovation. The 59th Training Group’s Alamo Spark Cell is a collaborative team that focuses on improving training at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

“Our Spark Cell team works with the whole campus here and also works with the Air Force Medical Modeling and Simulation Training at JBSA-Randolph,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Hauversburk, 382nd Training Squadron biomedical equipment technician course instructor. “We have every person we can get involved with within the campus and we brainstorm ideas. We ask ourselves, how can we innovate and accelerate training?”

Even during the pandemic, these innovators have implemented new ideas to help improve their students’ education.

“We’ve accomplished creating an environment for supplemental training aids within the student dormitory,” Hauversburk said. “We are working toward providing them with high-speed internet, giving students the ability to use virtual reality and augmented reality tools. This makes it possible for students outside the classroom environment to get hands-on experience training.”

However, innovation goes beyond the training environment. The Alamo Spark Cell is consistently working toward simplifying time-consuming tasks. This was highlighted when the Alamo Spark Cell won "Best Team Robot" in the 2021 Robot 4 Every Airman competition.

“The Robot 4 Every Airman competition is an Air Force and Space Force-wide cyber challenge,” Hauversburk said. “We identify a process that could be automated, saving time and energy for our Airmen and Guardians to focus on their actual jobs. For the competition, we created a weekly activity report robot. Our WAR bot collects data from various simplified excel sheets that our Airmen have filled in and then produces a PowerPoint within the fraction of the time it used to take.”

After the WAR bot won "Best Team Robot," Alamo Spark Cell expanded it throughout the Air Force.

“The WAR bot has been briefed and demoed at countless bases as part of the effort to push more units into learning how our process automation robot can benefit the Air Force,” Hauversburk said. “Different organizations contact me and I refer them to the Air Force Center of Excellence for our process automation. They train and provide them with all resources.”

The Alamo Spark Cell also focuses on machine learning, printing 3D models for training and recently proposed the Functional Academic Skills Test project, Hauversburk added.

“The Functional Academic Skills Test allows students with civilian-recognized accreditation to accelerate training,” Hauversburk explained. “For some of the programs, up to 12 months of training time is saved, which means a huge cost saving at $450 a day for each student.”

Airmen and Guardians can join Spark Cells and help bring their innovative ideas to a possible tangible reality.

“If anyone has a passion for medical innovation they can reach out to us or their local Spark Cells,” Hauversburk said. “We all want to collaborate together and leverage each other’s skills to accomplish projects for the Air Force.”