Safety powered through Innovation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marc A. Garcia
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. — Airman 1st Class Colton Walls, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron electrical power production technician, developed a tool at the McConnell Innovation Lab that will increase the safety measures for CES Airmen performing rapid airfield damage repair.

Walls found himself in a place to better the Air Force while participating in a Silver Flag training exercise that focuses on bare base bed down, sustainment operations and recovery after attack.

“I’m just thankful that I was blessed with the thought and idea,” said Walls. “I also want to thank the Air Force for listening to my idea and giving me a chance to see it come to fruition.”

Walls and a team of CES Airmen were training on the use of a Bagela Asphalt Recycler when concrete jammed the $134K piece of equipment. Walls removed the concrete from the recycler by hand, placing himself in a difficult position while inside the machine.

“I realized how much of a safety hazard that could be in a real life scenario, so that’s why I decided to design the tool,” said Walls.

Walls’ tool is a metal rake-like object that allows Airmen to reach in, dislodge and remove jammed concrete and debris while allowing Airmen to remain a safe distance away.

Walls’ supervisor, Staff Sgt. Baxter Sahlfeld, 22nd CES electrical power production technician, pushed Walls to submit his idea and begin the process to having it become invented.

Walls submitted his idea through AFWERX, a program with the goal of fostering a culture of innovation within the Air Force.

“AFWERX contacted my local innovation lab and the innovation team here helped me to design the tool and let me use their equipment to build it,” said Walls.

Walls created the tool by welding spare parts borrowed from the innovation lab — and did it in one day.

The tool was then sent to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and is currently being tested to ensure it does not need any modifications and can be used throughout the operational Air Force.

Once completed, Walls’ innovation will help create a safer work environment for CES Airmen across the Air Force.