TAMPA, Fla. – Today, U.S. Central Command announced the finalists and panelists selected for the first-ever Innovation Oasis, a ‘Shark Tank’-like innovation competition.
The Innovation Oasis was open to all active servicemembers, reservists, National Guard members, and all DoD civilians. USCENTCOM opened submissions on August 16th and closed them on September 16th, receiving more than 160 submissions. A panel of seven evaluated each submission and selected the top five, who were then invited to come to USCENTCOM headquarters to present their ideas.
The winner of the Innovation Oasis competition, which concludes on October 14th, will come from these finalists.
The five innovators are:
- Army National Guard Sgt. Mickey Reeve: 1-182nd Infantry, Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – His idea is a virtual Counter-UAS trainer.
- Air Force Capt. Kendra Kirkland: USCENTCOM headquarters – She developed an AI-based personnel accountability system.
- Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Larson: 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar – He fabricated a pallet loader.
- Army Lt. Col. Ferdinand Bacomo: 531st Hospital Center, Fort Campbell, Kentucky – His idea is the restructuring of medical support teams for combat.
- Maj. Matt Goyette, US Army Reserves: USCENTCOM, Detachment 1, Fort Devens, Massachusetts – He developed a blockchain supply system based on his time working at a Fortune 500 company.
“Getting down to five was a tough cut. The difference between the fifth-best submission and the seventeenth-best submission was negligible. Ultimately, we went with the five submissions that we feel would have the biggest organizational impact if implemented,” said Col. Joe Buccino, USCENTCOM spokesman.
The panel includes:
- Will Grannis, Chief Technology Officer at Google Cloud.
- Wes Anderson, Vice President of Defense at Microsoft.
- Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin.
- Schuyler Moore, USCENTCOM Chief Technology Officer.
- Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander.
- Fleet Master Chief Derrick Walters, USCENTCOM Senior Enlisted Leader and Navy Seal.
- Thomas “Tom” Martin, Avionics Manufacturing Specialist at SpaceX.
- James “Jim” Reuter, Associate Administrator for Space Technology at NASA.
- Rear Admiral Stefano Frumento, Italian Naval Officer.
- Kevin Harrington, entrepreneur and an original ‘Shark’ on Shark Tank.
“This panel represents the cutting edge in innovative thought across multiple sectors: the defense industry, Silicon Valley, academia, US government, and the tech industry. We have a NASA administrator, one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” and the leading executives in disruptive tech,” said Buccino.