Embracing Technology for a Future of Unparalleled Excellence

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Parker
  • DAF-MIT AI Accelerator

Dr. Victoria Coleman, the Chief Scientist of the Air Force, in collaboration with the Department of the Air Force-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (DAF-MIT AIA), hosted a foundational innovation and technology education workshop from June 5-8, 2023. This workshop aimed to cultivate an informed cohort of officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians who are serving in various roles across the DAF's research enterprise focused on developing Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA). The workshop provided valuable insights on how artificial intelligence can responsibly contribute to enhancing autonomy.

“One main goal of this course was to coalesce touchpoints across this emerging technology and provide a foundation on which to grow the Department of the Air Force’s investment and opportunities in this area,” Coleman said in her closing remarks. 

In her address to the attendees, Dr. Coleman emphasized the profound impact of individual actions in driving transformative outcomes. She left the group with a compelling challenge, urging them to leverage the knowledge and connections gained during the workshop to embark on a journey of continuous innovation and change for the betterment of our nation and our allies. “By recognizing the potential of small actions, we have the power to initiate a ripple effect that shapes a brighter future,” said Coleman.

The lectures covered topics such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence, technologies pivotal to CCA. To ensure a practical learning experience, a team of ten Air Force moderators, serving as subject matter experts, worked with MIT lecturers to connect the course content to the work being done with CCA and other Autonomous Collaborative Platforms.

"It has been a great experience collaborating with our MIT partners to build this workshop to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. By contextualizing the content of the work being done in autonomous platforms, we aim to empower our participants with the expertise and insights needed to propel innovation and drive tangible results in this field," said Maj Megan Muniz, chief learning officer and artificial intelligence development chief for education, DAF-MIT AIA. 

The Air Force is dedicated to maintaining a leading position in technological advancements and ensuring its personnel are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of national defense. The Air Force’s partnership with MIT and this workshop stand as a testament to that commitment.

During the workshop, the attendees were divided into two groups: the blue team and the red team. Engaging in scenario-based exercises, they worked towards developing innovative solutions regarding the IoT, big data, and AI. 

On the final day, each team had the opportunity to present their recommendations directly to Dr. Coleman. Both groups arrived at similar findings. They emphasized the importance of looking at the Air Force's data strategy, proposing measures to enhance its implementation and integration into operational processes, including cybersecurity practices. Furthermore, the teams advocated for comprehensive education on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. They strongly recommended the continued hosting of similar workshops and the development of specialized AI professional education to ensure optimal personnel placement for effective decision-making.

While this workshop focused on advancing autonomous programs within the Air Force, it is essential to emphasize that the principles and objectives of this training extend beyond this specific domain. The goal is to foster a culture of continuous learning and empower personnel across diverse fields to explore and implement solutions that shape the future.

By embracing innovation, emerging technologies, and collaborative approaches, all members of the Air Force can enhance their knowledge and skills, driving positive change and maximizing operational effectiveness.

The workshop brought together 60 participants from diverse operational backgrounds, including pilots, legislative liaisons, public affairs officers, JAGs, historians, intelligence officers, software developers, test engineers, weapons school graduates, test pilot school graduates, weather officers, data analysts, metaverse engineers, and cyber operators. In addition, attendees from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Air National Guard, Air Reserves, Department of the Navy, and international partners from the United Kingdom and Australia also participated.

About the Air Force-MIT AI Accelerator: The Department of the Air Force-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (DAF-MIT AIA) is a partnership between the Air Force and MIT aimed at advancing the development and application of artificial intelligence technologies in the military and civilian sectors. To learn more about the AIA and education opportunities, visit the DAF-AIA website

About the Air Force Autonomous Collaborative Platforms: The Air Force's Autonomous Collaborative Platforms aim to leverage advanced technologies, including AI and autonomous systems, to enhance the capabilities and effectiveness of Air Force operations. These projects explore the potential of collaborative platforms and combat aircraft to augment and collaborate with human operators, enabling more efficient mission execution.