2022 Maintenance Innovation Challenge Finalists Named

By Christine E. Culver

Last month, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Materiel Readiness [ODASD(MR)] announced that six finalists from a field of 92 participants were selected by the Joint Technology Exchange Group in the final round of the 2022 Maintenance Innovation Challenge.

The competition, also known as the MIC, attracts innovators exploring novel and unique technologies, business collaborations, resourcing strategies, business and production processes, and other transformative capabilities that could improve the speed, effectiveness, efficiency, and affordability of maintenance and sustainment for the Department of Defense

“The Maintenance Innovation Challenge is one of the highlights of the annual DoD Maintenance Symposium,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Sustainment Mr. Steve Morani. “Each year, the competition pushes the envelope on novel and resourceful ways to solve challenges in weapon systems sustainment with the outcome of increasing operational availability and reducing sustainment cost.”

According to one of the judges, Steve McKee, director of Enterprise Maintenance Technologies within Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Materiel Readiness, competition this year was particularly stiff.

“This year's MIC competition contained a number of amazing solutions ranging from additive manufacturing and reliability improvement to autonomous logistics. These submission were generated by uniformed personnel, government civilians, industry, and academia,” McKee said. “I'm always impressed with the ingenuity and vision of these innovators to improve readiness across DoD.”

Entrants came from across the sustainment enterprise, demonstrating the ongoing cooperation between the Department of Defense, academia, and industry partners large and small. Over the past seven years of MIC competition, those cooperative efforts have helped new ideas get the spotlight they deserve, even if they come from an unexpected place.

“The MIC provides small businesses a direct avenue into the DoD sustainment enterprise to propose innovative solutions. MIC proposals have become a staple of sustainment innovation for the Department,” Morani said.

The finalists chosen for this year’s MIC are:

  • Cold Spray Pop-Up Production Cell, submitted by Susan Simms, U.S. Navy Naval Sea Systems Command Technology Office / VRC Metal Systems
  • E-Drill: A New Way to Remove Aircraft Fasteners, submitted by Jared Wright, U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command
  • Fiber Optic Fusion Splice Repair, submitted by Brett Jordan, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Letterkenny Army Depot Innovative Cold Spray Repairs, submitted by Sam Evans, The Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Lab
  • Metal Components from Hybrid Additive Manufacturing, submitted by Slade Gardner, Big Metal Additive
  • Witness Integrity Sensor Platform (WISP), Submitted by Seth S. Kessler, Ph.D., Metis Design Corporation

Finalists will present their submission at the DoD Maintenance Innovation Challenge Finals breakout session of the 2022 DoD Maintenance Symposium, held December 12–15 in Orlando, Florida. A panel of senior DoD sustainment leaders will select the overall winner, and the in-person audience will choose a “People’s Choice” winner. The overall winner and the People’s Choice winner will each receive $50,000 of in-kind support from the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. All 92 entries will be published in the 2022 MIC Book and online.

Entrants are judged on maintenance relevance and impact, originality and contribution to the state of the art, avoidance of commercialism, technical maturity, cross-service applicability, and feasibility/practicality.

-Learn more about the MIC, and start planning for next year’s competition, at: https://competition.ncms.org/maintenance-innovation-challenge/

To be part of the in-person audience that sees the presentations and posters and to vote for the People’s Choice winner, attend the 2022 DoD Maintenance Symposium. Details are available at https://www.sae.org/attend/dod.