Thursday, May 4, 2017
Catalyst Campus, a cutting-edge incubator designed for industry, small business, and aspiring entrepreneurs is slowly coming to life on Thursday morning. The campus which is in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs is bringing new life to the region by using innovation to stimulate business growth and creating strong community within the region.
Inside Catalyst, the C-TRAC team is already moving as if it had been running at full capacity since dawn. The lights may be off in the surrounding offices but a combination of sunshine and incandescent lighting make the office the early morning hub of activity. Phone calls are being made, emails are being addressed, the social media sites are being updated, and preparation for the final out brief of the Air Force CyberWorx semester is being discussed. And that’s only the beginning.
Even though technology transfer is C-TRAC’s business, there is a lot more that happens behind the scenes to make sure that the process goes smoothly. It seems like there is never a dull moment. If an event isn’t currently happening, C-TRAC is always in the process of planning one.
Two weeks ago, C-TRAC hosted the Installation of the Future (Short name: #AFSmartBases) design sprint followed by a Tech2Market showcase. This week it’s the AF CyberWorx semester finale. Only several weeks from now comes the design sprint on space situational awareness. The events along with the action just keep on coming.
“Where is Erin this morning,” asks an inquiring visitor who pokes his head into the office. “Out of town on business through Friday,” a voice responds. Erin of course, is Erin Miller, Managing Director of C-TRAC, the one who keeps the engine that is C-TRAC propelling forward into the future. C-TRAC has nation-wide reach that takes Erin to various parts of the country.
After the visitor leaves it’s back to work. The tapping of keyboards is back in full effect again. An email here and an email there. Power point slides are being prepped. A narration script is being put together for a new YouTube video.
The aroma of fresh coffee has started to permeate through the air. It’s an aroma that allows for focus and enjoyment. Yes, there is lots of work to be done but enjoying the process is key a motivator.
The co-working space in Catalyst is now buzzing with life, which is just a few steps away from where the C-TRAC office is located. It is filled with entrepreneurs and small business owners who are all excited about what they are doing within the Colorado Springs community.
There are several constant themes within C-TRAC’s organization. One being that the majority of the team members graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with either a Bachelors or Masters. No, it wasn’t planned that way, but it’s interesting to see that local talent is actually staying home. That local feel allows for a cohesive unit within the team as everyone understands the area. Locality also allows strong bonds of friendship to be formed and that goes a long way in a new company.
Events like Tech2Market: Air Force Technology Showcase that C-TRAC hosts, provide an avenue for those close relationships to flourish. The inventors and entrepreneurs that come to these events are not just faces with titles that are easily thrown around but are important friends of the organization that know they will be valued and supported in the long run.
There’s nothing like having a meeting over panini’s, especially a panini from Blank Canvas, a local bistro that’s a block away from Catalyst Campus. After taking a Design Thinking course at the United States Air Force Academy last week, the team is learning to look at problems from a solution-oriented perspective. Sometimes, though, solving a problem is just better with good food.
The operations team, consisting of KiMar Gartman, Amanda Dobias, and Aaron ‘Rudy’ Morosini, understand this pivotal point and are in the key stages of creating videos, graphics, and other design concepts which they hope to incorporate into a bigger vision of what tech transfer and C-TRAC can become.
The Ops Team, as they like to be called, typically meet twice a week to go over strategies on how C-TRAC can enhance its influence in a variety of ways. At the moment, they are discussing what steps need to be made in the upcoming weeks so that C-TRAC can be seen as a reliable and knowledgeable source of technological information that is both innovative and creative.
“So where do we stand with our Facebook Live feed tomorrow?” “What time to we need to at CyberWorx?” “What, 7:30!!” “Who is coming?” “Did the Air Force confirm they will be able to come up with a policy solution?”
Questions are being tossed around, back and forth, and rightfully so. Tomorrow is Friday and the final day of the Command and Control of Cyber Space (Short name: #AFCyberC2) semester sprint. The cadets work over the semester is being finalized into a policy solution that will have lasting effects for years to come. C-TRAC wants to be prepared for this last presentation and to make sure that each team member is on the same page.
Megen Schlesinger, C-TRAC’s Air Force Program Manager for AF CyberWorx, understands the importance of what impact these sprints can have. After serving in the Army, Megen wanted to work at C-TRAC because she understood some of the problems that our military branches face. “Having the opportunity to benefit our Airmen and our soldiers is so important, which is why I’m passionate about the work that C-TRAC and AF CyberWorx are doing together”, Megen candidly stated.
“That’s it for today, but if you need anything e-mail me.” Those last words hang in the air. It’s a realization that C-TRAC is like a train, always on the move with only intermittent stops along the way. Quite fitting actually, considering that the office is inside a refurbished Santa Fe railway station.
At the end of the day technology transfer is C-TRAC’s business, but it’s also about the close relationships and a deep desire for empathy towards their industry partners, research professionals, and United States Airmen, that will help forge bonds that will have a lasting impact well into the future.