CyberWorx cultivates cadet creativity
U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet 2nd Class Kelsey Monaghan-Bergson takes a break while discussing the value of the Air Force CyberWorx problem-solving process Jan. 18, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Patrick Brush)
By Randy Roughton
U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Cadet 2nd Class Kelsey Monaghan-Bergson says she feels empowered to challenge traditional thinking for more innovative solutions each time she visits Air Force CyberWorx.
“In the CyberWorx space, I can just let my brain roam,” Monaghan-Bergson said. “I can doodle on a wall and throw sticky notes everywhere. I can visualize abstract concepts and translate them into engineering systems and map out neural networks. I just let my creativity flow free of judgment. Equipped with the capabilities of creative strategy, I feel empowered to push the boundaries of what is possible.”
U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School cadet candidates attend a panel discussing the cyber career field and what sets Air Force CyberWorx apart from other cyber-related offices in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force Jan. 18, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rayna Grace)
A focus on the warfighter while finding solutions
CyberWorx is an innovation lab that optimizes products, processes and policies with user-centered design best practices. The CyberWorx team rapidly designs, adapts or cultivates emerging technology with creative solutions to problems centered around warfighters.
“The Air Force CyberWorx mission is to rapidly prototype solutions to Air Force and Department of Defense problems,” said Col. Robert Giovannetti, CyberWorx director. “We come in with different skills for a different focus and resources to make change and create better solutions.”
The CyberWorx team has three priorities. First, they work with government, industry and academic innovation partners and emergent technologies to solve operational problems. Second, they expose Department of Defense and Air Force members to user-design and emerging technology and use industry and academia to discover novel technology. Third, the CyberWorx staff helps develop innovative leaders with cadet hands-on experiences through classes and capstone assistance.
U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet 4th Class Alyssa Wagner uses sticky notes as part of the problem-solving process at Air Force CyberWorx Jan. 18, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rayna Grace)
Seven years of solving cyber problems
Since CyberWorx was established in 2016, the initiative has made significant contributions to the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. Some of these achievements include streamlining cyber operations, enhancing training and education and accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies in the cyber domain. Cadets continue to be a crucial part of the CyberWorx process, Giovannetti said.
“It’s great to be located here at the (U.S.) Air Force Academy with the cadets here with us,” Giovannetti said. “Most of the time, when we do different problem-solving events, we will have cadets involved in that process. They bring in a unique perspective that is very helpful.”
Looking forward to the opening of the Madera Cyber Innovation Center
The CyberWorx team is anticipating the opening of the 48,000 square foot Madera Cyber Innovation Center. The team looks forward to the innovation hub uniting government and industry representatives. Users will benefit from the high-tech collaborative environment and continue to drive new ways of thinking and novel solutions. CyberWorx will share the center’s high-tech classrooms, nine state-of-the-art labs and research and design space with the Department of Computer and Cyber Sciences and the Institute for Future Conflict.
“This facility is going to be critical to our mission, in terms of looking ahead at different strategic opportunities and making sure that cadets understand the bigger picture of where the Air Force [and Space Force] is going,” Giovannetti said.
U.S. Air Force Academy cadets attend a class about warfighter-centric problem solving at Air Force CyberWorx Jan. 18, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rayna Grace)
Creating officers prepared for future complex challenges
Monaghan-Bergson believes the skills and creative experiences she has learned at CyberWorx has prepared her for the challenges she expects to face as an Air Force officer.
“I’m incredibly grateful for CyberWorx because they catalyze my personal and professional development. I’ve challenged the limits of traditional thinking, and they encouraged me to explore novel solutions,” Monaghan-Bergson said. “Now being equipped with these newfound skills and experiences with creative strategy, I am more confident in my abilities.”
Air Force CyberWorx staff members pose for a team photo Jan. 18, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rayna Grace)
For more photos of cadets working with the CyberWorx team, see Flickr.