UWF Students Awarded $25,000 To Develop App For Air Force
As a retired Army interrogator, Daryl Meade has some experience with military communication systems.
And he was able to put that knowledge to good use with an app he developed alongside fellow University of West Florida students Christian Kaman and Lloyd Mageo.
“We were approached by AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) to find solutions helping them communicate better,” Meade said. “It’s more than a piece of software, but a whole holistic approach to gathering data.”
The application — Enhanced Situational Awareness Process — is a web-based, interactive dashboard that is fully customizable and includes a mobile application allowing users to better gather and report data, a speech-to-text functionality and integration with Microsoft Outlook calendar to track external engagements, according to a news release from UWF.
Meade said he looked to his military background to make the system more engaging.
“Given my interrogation background, I’m pretty good at asking questions,” he said. “(With the software) you want more of a normal conversation.”
ESAP was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Small Business Innovation Research program. SBIR’s mission is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through federal research funds, according to the website.
The students developed the application during UWF’s Hacking for Defense course from May to July. They conducted more than 40 interviews with stakeholders and potential beneficiaries as part of the class.
Meade said the experience with the course and its founder, Dr. Donovan Chau, director of research engagement for the UWF Division of Research and Strategic Innovation, was a great way to gain real-world experience.
“We’re not the only success story,” Meade said. “Really good things come out of it.”
With the grant, Meade and Kaman have decided to work together to fully develop the app under Kaman’s company, 2enovate. Funds will help cover everything from software licensing to gas expenses driving back and forth to Hurlburt Field, Meade said.
The two are a good team, said Meade. Each of their individual strengths complement one another.
“Kaman knows business and I’m not a business person,” Meade said with a laugh. “I like solving problems. His experience and my experience go together very well.”
Kaman said he knew they had something when they had interest from the Air Force. But it was a last-minute decision to sign up for the SBIR grant.
“We spent five days putting the proposal together,” he said.
In the future, Meade and Kaman said they see the application being used outside of the military. The next step for ESAP is working with medical professionals.
For Kaman, developing ESAP and working with the Air Force is a way for him to make a contribution to his country, he said. His wife is a commanding officer at Whiting Field.
“I tried to join the military before, but didn’t get in because of an eye condition,” he explained. “This is my way to serve and it’s a dream come true for me.”