The “AFWERX Inspiring Innovation Award” was recently presented to Tom Burden, a former F-16 weapons mechanic, by Lt. Gen. Harris USAF. The presentation was made at the AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub, 3773 Howard Hughes Parkway, Las Vegas, that was attended by tech innovator, Mark Cuban.
More than 50 airmen and officers from nearby Creech & Nellis Air Force Bases also attended the event where both Gen. Harris Mark Cuban and AFWERX’ COO, Dave Harden spoke about technology, defense and the importance of innovation in both industry and in our nation’s security. Mark Cuban went on to encourage all to innovate and bring positive change:
“When you have an idea, why not you…why not me…why not us?” – Mark Cuban
A former member of the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Air Wing, Swanton, Ohio, Burden developed a solution to prevent his tools rolling out of reach while maintaining an F-16’s gun trough. Burden went on to crowd-fund production of a set of prototypes via Kickstarter, but he got one of his biggest boosts as a guest on a reality TV show with Mark Cuban.
Burden now receives funding and mentorship from tv show hosts Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, and guest panelist Richard Branson. Since appearing on tv, his technology has entered into partnerships with multiple tool manufacturers, and recently, has been named one of Time magazine’s 2018 Best Inventions of the Year. Burden was also named to the 2019 “30 Under 30” list compiled by Forbes.
“Tom Burden’s success story epitomizes what AFWERX is all about,” AFWERX Vegas Innovation Actualizer Mark Rowland said. “Putting practical problem-solvers, business and technical experts, and warfighter professionals into the same creative environment, and developing real-world answers out of those interactions. We’re very proud that he’s received our ‘Inspiring Innovation Award.” – Mark Rowland, Innovation Actualizer – AFWERX Vegas
For more information on AFWERX events, visit: www.afwerxdc.org.
For more information regarding design challenges regularly hosted online by AFWERX Vegas, visit: www.afwerxchallenge.com.
As envisioned by U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in 2017, AFWERX is intended to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces, through innovation and collaboration amongst our nation’s top subject-matter experts. The world is changing quickly—new technologies, new threats, and new opportunities.
AFWERX taps into the power of creativity and empowers intentional innovation that unleashes emergent approaches for the warfighter through a community of intrapreneurs, industry, academia, and non-traditional contributors. AFWERX has the ability “to bring together our nation’s best and brightest to collaborate, innovate, fabricate, and present accelerated results to the United States Air Force to better serve our No. 1 customer: the warfighter and operators in the Air Force.”