Local Guardsman Participates in National-Level Program That Aims to Tackle State Issue

  • Published
  • By Maj. Angela Walz
  • 162nd Wing

Technical Sgt. Alex Tamayo works as a security manager one weekend per month and two weeks per year at the 162nd Wing at Morris Air National Guard Base as a traditional Drill Status Guardsman (DSG). He’s also worked full-time for the past year-and-a-half as a systems administrator for a local defense company, but coding is his real passion, which he hasn’t been able to pursue until recently when he heard of an Air Reserve Component (ARC) program for innovators like himself. Tamayo stumbled upon an opportunity to participate in a ‘Hack the Ranch’ event at the ARCWERX headquarters right here in Tucson last week.

ARCWERX is the Air Reserve Component’s version of AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force. From an organizational chart perspective, ARCWERX is a directorate nestled beneath the Air National Guard-Air Force Reserve Test Center (AATC), which is housed at the Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz. ARCWERX, however, is geographically separated in downtown Tucson.

“Innovation is critical to being number one and today we live in a world where software is one of the most important, if not the most important, component of innovation,” said Lt. Col. Shahin Pena-Serrano, the Director of Software for Corsair Ranch. ‘Corsair Ranch’ is the name of the software division of ARCWERX, and, according to Pena-Serrano, is focused on modernizing software engineering.

“ARCWERX is the innovation hub. ARC innovation begins at ARCWERX and Corsair Ranch and they are instrumental in attacking wings’ pain points,” Pena-Serrano said. “Both organizations are complementary to each other and can benefit and push boundaries and break down barriers together,” he said.

Enter Tech. Sgt. Tamayo and the Hack the Ranch event. “I’ve taken classes before, but I saw this as an opportunity to potentially integrate a personal hobby into my career,” said Tamayo. Having spent his entire 11 years of military service as a member of the 162nd Wing, this was his first opportunity to collaborate with other service members, civilian and contractors outside the perimeter of the base at the Hack the Ranch Hackathon.

Hackathons are events where programmers come together to collaborate and rapidly develop software application prototypes to meet a set of requirements or to solve a problem. At the Tucson event, entitled ‘The Revitalization of Barry M. Goldwater Range’ (BMGR), collaborators worked toward a solution for a positive impact on military flight crew training within the BMGR.

Established in 1941 in the desert mountains of southern Arizona, the BMGR has been a popular air-to-air and air-to-ground training range used by various aircraft across the Air Force and DoD. The goal for Tamayo and the other collaborators at the hackathon was to produce software deliverables that have the potential to bring positive impacts to range planning and operations. ARCWERX was the facilitator of innovation for problem-solving amongst service members and contractors across the DoD for this -- Corsair Ranch’s very first -- hackathon.

Pena-Serrano said ARCWERX regularly conducts hackathons, and they are a great way to come together for a few days to learn from and work with like-minded individuals to solve a specific problem set using various modern software engineering tools. “We always have projects that any type of coder, no matter the skill set, can work on,” he said.

For DSGs like Tamayo, ARCWERX and Corsair Ranch offer avenues to innovate in new and exciting ways and help solve local or national problems in affordable ways. Did Tamayo and his fellow collaborators solve the BMGR scheduling issues? Attend a future hackathon event to find out.

To submit an innovation idea, visit the ARCWERX website: https://arcwerx.dso.mil. For more information about future hackathons, visit https://corsairranch.dso.mil/contact or https://www.linkedin.com/company/corsair-ranch/.