Ramstein Airman ignites innovation with spark of genius

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- One 86th Communications Squadron Airman assigned to Ramstein Air Base took second place in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s Spark Tank competition.

Airman 1st Class John Willman, 86th CS cyber defense analyst, won a $2,500 prize and a chance to win more and have the Air Force institute his idea at the headquarters Air Force competition later this year.

Each major command submits two Airmen and their ideas for the headquarters competition.

According to an Air Force news story from Sept. 21, 2017, “The competition calls for Airmen to pitch their innovative ideas to the Air Force’s senior leaders through the Airmen Powered by Innovation portal and culminates in a showcase of those ideas in Orlando, Fla.”

Willman, a Los Angeles, California native, designed a system to centralize the Windows 10 upgrade across the entire Air Force using the Windows Deployment Services and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.

“Currently, from base to base there’s not really a set way to do things,” Willman said. “They might use disks to image, which takes longer, some may use a hard drive, or they might be doing practices which aren’t authorized anymore.”

With Willman’s plan, the upgrade will be centralized at the headquarters level, and disseminated down from there. This way the process is more fluid, he added.

“Both tools run on a server and you have your deployment share, which holds all the files for imaging, then you can link the deployment shares so the servers are all linked,” Willman explained. “So you can have your central master server and when you make changes on that it propagates to the rest of them. So if the Air Force releases a new standard desktop configuration then they can publish it on the master, it will replicate to all the other servers.”

Willman’s plan decreases installation time by approximately 17 percent and increased the number of computers upgraded at a time from 8, to 45.

“The only reason it’s 45 is because the shop that runs the program is constrained by power requirements,” Willman said.

Willman plans to invest his USAFE prize money into cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, and will do the same if he wins at the headquarters Air Force level.