ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – What started out as an Airman’s innovative idea to help his wingmen is now a reality at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
The installation held a ribbon cutting ceremony March 30 for its recently installed Intelligent Lockers, giving the Airmen at the dormitories a centralized location to receive their packages after hours.
The lockers started as an idea presented by Senior Airman Ricardo Morales, 461st Aircraft Maintenance group crew chief, during the 2021 Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Rodeo. Morales was chosen as the winner, and subsequently, Robins was awarded $235,000 and became the first base to install the Intelligent Lockers at its dorms.
“It makes me so happy to see the lockers are ready to be used by all the Airmen in the dorms,” said Senior Airman Ricardo Morales, 461st Aircraft Maintenance Group crew chief. “I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the implementation of the lockers.”
Morales said the locker idea came to him after noticing fellow Airmen experienced delays in getting their packages because their work schedules conflicted with the limited post office hours on base.
According to Morales, his idea not only saves space in the postal facility but allows Airmen to pick up their mail at a convenient time for them.
“I couldn't have done it without the support of my local innovation hub and AFIMSC,” said Morales “This will improve life for Airmen because they can now retrieve their packages 24/7. Shift workers will now be able to get off their shift and retrieve their package at any time of the day without having to work around the base post office’s limited hours.”
Several members of installation leadership attended the ribbon cutting, including Col. Rosalie Duarte, 78th Air Base Wing vice commander, who gave opening remarks.
“Innovation is a top priority of our Air Force leaders, starting with (Air Force Chief of Staff) Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., when he demanded that we accelerate, change, or lose,” said Duarte. “Here at Robins, we’ve taken this direction on innovation very seriously by empowering our Airmen – both military and civilian. We truly believe empowered Airmen can solve any problem.”
Also in attendance was Maj. Gen. Michael Koscheski, Fifteenth Air Force commander, who came in from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.
“This is wonderful, and we need to grow that innovative spirit across our force. That is how we are going to accelerate change,” he said. “We have to think our way to a better Air Force, and today is a great example at how we will do that.”
Col. Michelle Carns, 461st Air Control Wing commander, commended Morales for his tenacity.
“This was almost a two-year process,” Carns said. “He never quit, never gave up, and hung in there no matter what he encountered. I love what he did because it was not just about him; it was about the team.
“He wasn’t the only one not getting his mail, and he wanted to do something community-minded,” she continued. “His innovation will improve the quality of life for all Airmen living in the dorms here at Robins.”
Carns said seven other bases have already scheduled Intelligent Lockers to be installed at their facilities and eventually this service will be available across the Air Force.
Morales encourages everyone to put on their thinking caps to bring positive change to the Air Force.
“Innovation has no rank,” he said. “You can still make a difference. Get connected with your local innovation hub so they can help you navigate your idea and provide you with any needed resources. I did this as an Airman 1st class; you can too.”