Seventy four AFIT EWI Fellows met with AF senior leaders at the Mid Tour Conference. This is the largest EWI class in more than 25 years demonstrating Air Force senior leadership embracing the value a structured industry immersion brings back to the Air Force. (Contributed Photo)
By: Captain Joshua Benedetti, Amazon EWI Fellow
ORLANDO, Fla. – Seventy-four Air Force Institute of Technology Education with Industry Fellows gathered in Orlando for the program’s annual mid tour conference where they shared personal industry insights and best practices as well as heard from Pentagon and corporate leadership.
The group was comprised of officer, enlisted and civilian Fellows representing 15 career fields. Each Fellow briefed the group and began by summarizing their unique EWI experiences dating back to September when they began fulltime work at 45 companies across the country including Amazon, Apple, Boeing, Deloitte, and Microsoft. The educational tour lasts 10 months, and the Fellows will return to their respective Air Force careers in July.
The conference focused on applying current industry best practices to solve pressing Air Force problems. The Fellows were challenged to examine existing government constructs and policies through the eyes of industry.
Rita Flaherty, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at Lockheed Martin, served as a keynote speaker for the event. She implored the Fellows to leverage their time at their respective companies to gain a new perspective on public private relationships.
“You have such a unique opportunity; I encourage you to take advantage of it,” said Flaherty. “You’re bringing diversity of experience back to the Air Force and that is a big deal.”
Lt. Col. James Townsend, Maj. Phil Amirault, and retired Lt. Col. Jeremy Anfinson led an acquisition panel, sharing the latest acquisition strategies and news with the Fellows. Townsend, SAF/AQX’s AF Information Systems Portfolio Analyst, said “the relationships developed and insights gained by these Fellows are unrivaled by any other Air Force experience.”
This year’s EWI class is the largest class in over 25 years largely due to Air Force senior leadership embracing the value a structured industry immersion brings to the Air Force. In recent years, Air Force leadership has placed a premium on the business acumen and diversity of thought that the graduates bring back to the Air Force.
Mr. Sammy Slade, the executive sponsor of the EWI Program stated “EWI continues to be one of the most valuable and successful programs we execute. We’re investing in our young leaders, and in turn, they’re bringing a unique perspective back to the Air Force and challenging the status quo with a ton of diverse and innovative ideas!”
Fellows presented innovative ideas derived from their personal corporate experiences which, if creatively applied within the Department of Defense, have the potential to yield tremendous benefit. Highlights of some of the fellow’s ideas and experiences included:
AFIT EWI Fellows toured Blue Origin’s rocket factory in Merritt Island, Fla. during their Mid Tour Conference to learn what it takes to build the world’s first reusable rocket - Blue Origin's New Shepard. (Contributed Photo)