From the early days of the famous Skunk Works team at Lockhead Martin, the US Air Force have always taken an innovative approach to ensuring they get the best technology available.
With the social innovation model working wonders at the likes of DARPA, it was perhaps not surprising that the Air Force would want to get in on things, and this week they have. They’ve launched a new website called Collaboratory, which aims to encourage collaborative problem solving.
The site offers a variety of projects that you can offer help on, such as one around the topic of search and rescue or making GPS satellites easier to launch.
Participation is open to anyone, so suffice to say the projects are not of the most secure kind, with participants asked to watch a briefing video before joining their project of choice. Once joined up you can see the contributions people have already made, plus research in that area. You can then participate in a series of brainstorming challenges to help generate ideas, which can then be developed further.
There is a gamification element to the site, with users rewarded with badges for notable achievements, and leaderboards showing how your contributions match up against other users.
The site was developed by GSD&M in Austin, Texas, who are the same agency that developed the Air Force’s recruitment adverts. It is undoubtedly therefore seen as a way to get young people interested in a career in the Air Force as well as a means of getting interesting ideas to the table.
The proof will be in the pudding as to whether the site succeeds in generating both additional new recruits, or additional insight into the challenges posted. It’s certainly an interesting effort though and a novel approach to recruitment. You can find out more in the video below.