The FRCSW Catapult Competition: Where the Rubber Meets the…Tire

Chris Root, co-host at the 2019 CTMA Partners Meeting, leads the Advanced Technology and Innovation Team at the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW). As part of encouraging innovative thinking across the facility, he began the Catapult Competition. The second Catapult Competition took place during this year’s CTMA Partners Meeting with the audience participating as judges. Six finalists had to make the most of their five-minute allotment to convince the audience of the benefits of their idea followed by another five minutes in which the audience asked questions before grading each presentation on a scorecard. The winner receives seed funding and project support to further the proposal and transition strategy.

This year, Edgar Armenta, Materials Engineer, Aircraft Tires, FRCSW, took home the prize for his presentation of inserting a rubber compound into tires of permanently or semi-permanently static aircraft. “We have many aircraft sitting stagnant for long periods of time even when transferred to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, otherwise known as the “Bone Yard.” The tires degrade and when they have to be moved can be dangerous,” says Armenta.

His innovative idea of filling those tires with a rubber compound that won’t deflate got the judges’ attention. It’s a simple idea that was well-presented. “I had mixed feelings about how I did,” says Armenta. “Some of the other presentations were more complex and mine was so simple. But I knew there was a need for this. I’m looking forward to attending the next Catapult Competition and telling the competitors that my project is done. I’m glad that I work at a place that encourages us to think innovatively.”