Project Mercury participants tackle new problems

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Corinna Diaz
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

Plato famously wrote, “necessity is the mother of invention.” As the U.S. Air Force continues to modernize and adapt, they are also faced with new challenges that require innovative solutions.

Members of Holloman have tackled these arising challenges head-on by participating in a Project Mercury innovator workshop here. The workshop is aimed at creating a group of leaders on base who are fully equipped to tackle crisis situations with new tools and ways of thinking.

Seven volunteers from across the 49th Wing have stepped up to this challenge. After completing the four-day-long course, the group will have four weeks to identify and address an issue that exists in the wing and present their solution to the deputy commander.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kristen Torma, 49th Maintenance Group deputy commander, went through the course herself in January of 2022 and now coaches others on the unique innovation skills required to take on the newest challenges faced here.

“First and foremost, we need to teach this group of people how to look at problems differently,” said Torma. “From there, we teach them how to work together in teams and use a completely different set of tools and connections they have at their disposal. After completing the workshop, this small group of Airmen can spread the knowledge they learned throughout their organizations and multiply the impact we made here in just a short amount of time.”

The team working together over the length of the workshop is diverse in rank, squadron and job duties, which provides diversified perspectives and contributes to their problem-solving abilities.

“Innovation doesn’t happen when you stick to one idea, you need friction,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Francisco Banuelos, 49th Security Forces Squadron entry controller. “Since we come from a variety of different backgrounds, there was a lot of friction. This helped us learn a lot from each other and we learned different ways to accomplish the ultimate goal of helping Holloman innovate.”

These representatives from across the wing are one of the many lines of defense Holloman has in protecting the installation against threats it may face or combating challenges that arise here.

“Each member brings strengths that help move the project forward,” said Torma. “The conversations that take place in teams like this as they grow and learn are very powerful.”