156th Comm Flight Airmen create innovative software

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rafael Rosa
  • 156th Wing/Public Affairs

Two Puerto Rico Air National Guard Airmen used a college capstone project to bring innovation to the 156th Wing. They created software that saves on manpower resources and can potentially save the Air National Guard thousands of dollars a year. 

"We created a software that is a user-friendly interface for our help desk personnel, our server administrators and cybersecurity, as a whole," said Tech. Sgt. Luis Vega, a cybersecurity manager with the 156th Communications Flight.

Vega, along with Senior Airman Carlos Lopez Camargo, both cybersecurity managers with the 156th Communications Flight, created a software they call System Checker Plus. The program allows Comm. Flight Airmen to remotely scan, identify, update and patch computers around the base without affecting the end-user.

The project began when Vega and Lopez saw an opportunity to help the Communications Focal Point team patch and manage vulnerabilities at the 156th Wing and geographically separated units. The application started as secondary remediation support to the System Center Configuration Manager for devices that were not automatically updating their systems. The idea was to reduce manpower and time to allow the CFP member to work on other duties while maintaining software vulnerabilities. They used coding knowledge gained from their programming and engineering majors to automate many of the tasks that were time-consuming for the CFP.

“We use the product remotely to execute whatever you need and the user is not affected by it,” said Vega. “Before, the user would have to log out so the administrator could go in, patch the issue, restart the computer and then log out so you can work again. With the software we created, that all runs in the background.”

With an application like System Checker Plus, one person can take on multiple jobs at once, which would normally require a larger workforce to accomplish. Also, capabilities can expand as needed by comm. flight personnel, to accomplish more tasks as the network and situations evolve.

“So the application is for only one person to use and run the required network task or tasks to completion. Instead of five people, just one person can do it,” said Lopez.

This innovative software provides the 156th Communications Flight a set of tools to easily accomplish tasks like listing all running software, list all connected hardware, run port scans, list quarantined computers, find inactive users and computers, query for system information, among other tasks and can potentially save the wing costs of expensive similar software. 

“We estimate that this software could save the wing around $350,000 a year and increase efficiencies,” said Vega.

Vega and Lopez believe that Airmen throughout the wing will benefit and see the results from the automated patching and tracking of computer systems through System Checker Plus. The feedback and inputs Vega and Lopez received from their peers, helped create System Check Plus to be the most efficient tool to accomplish network maintenance requirements. 

“It was mostly a team effort, we took it as a project and we wanted to give this to the unit to help streamline the process and smooth out inefficiencies, the work in IT never stops,” said Vega.

The goal for Vega and Lopez is that once the app has been fully tried and tested to eventually present their product through Airmen Powered by Innovation and expand to be able to share their software with other units in the National Guard Bureau.