Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis IV, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
BREMERTON, Wash. – Service members, shipyard professionals, Department of Defense civilians and community organizations came together January 20, at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton’s CPO Club to participate in the Athena Project.
The Athena Project is a volunteer organization seeking new ideas and innovations from inside the Navy and DoD to benefit Sailors and families, along with the nation.
”The Athena Project was founded by officers in the wardroom aboard the destroyer, USS Benfold (DDG 65) and the goal of it was to recognize innovation in a casual but professional environment,” said Lt. Daniel Conley, Pacific Northwest Local Chapter Leader. “From E-1 all the way up, the Athena Project gives the environment to innovate and grow.”
This year, eight presenters gave a 3-5 minute presentations of their ideas in front of five judges and more than 20 audience members.
“I got involved at the first Athena Project presentation in the Northwest when I pitched an idea concerning shipboard SCBA’s,” said Conley. “I didn’t win, but the ideas are saved and possibly implemented in the future.”
Presenters came from many different aspects of business and employment, from Sailors to shipyard workers.
“It was difficult to be judged hard,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class David Toth, assigned to USS Nimitz (CVN 68). “But after being heard and getting the information out, it felt great.”
As the presenters gave their ideas to the judges and the audience, questions and concerns were delivered not only by the judges, but the audience too.
“Athena gives us the power to look at new fresh ideas that can assist and improve the military, DoD alike,” said Conley.
The judges were very critical of the details in each idea and very informative in the pros and cons.
“Deckplate ideas can be some of the best ideas seeing it’s coming from the deckplates themselves,” said Alan Kent, Technical Director at Naval Undersea Museum Keyport. “Innovation comes from anywhere, Athena gives these presenters the ability to get their ideas heard and receive feedback.”
At the close of the meeting, one idea is labeled as the top idea of the meeting and this year’s was Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 2nd Class Scott Bonk, assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, who left with the top idea, concerning internal communications.
“I really appreciate the recognition,” said Bonk. “I’m very thankful for the outlet to present these ideas to a receptive audience, willing to help implement the ideas.”
After the closing of the event, presenters and judges came together to discuss their ideas and receive contact information to improve their ideas.
“The ultimate goal of the Athena Project is to network and provide an environment where new innovations can be heard, invested, and hopefully implemented to better the Navy, Department of Defense, and other sectors,” said Conley.