April 17, 2024

Sector Portrait: Research & Innovation

Virtual Reality Check at UCF

The University of Central Florida is conducting leading-edge experiments in simulation and training.

Thomas L. Baptiste
"Even during the recession, the Department of Defense's buying power has not wavered," says retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Baptiste, president of the National Center for Simulation at the UCF institute.
Meanwhile, a few dozen feet away, a computer screen displays a virtual hospital room where nurses are able to interact with a computerized patient and get trained in pain management.

Programs developed in partnership with the U.S. Army are helping to train crisis managers, emergency medical technicians, fire rescue personnel and hospital medical staff. Trainees play a video game that simulates a combat area or trauma scene. Accompanying the game are life-like models of body parts that simulate a pulse, blood and underlying anatomy. An additional simulator can give off smells such as burning flesh or vomit. An obvious advantage of modeling is that the medical team can review what it did wrong and try again.

The National Center for Simulation — which shares space with the institute — helps to bridge the research between the public and private sectors. The trade group provides opportunities for about 162 member companies to network and tap into the $5 billion that the Department of Defense has budgeted for modeling and simulation products and services.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Baptiste, the center's president and executive director, calls simulation an important part of Florida's economy. "Even during the recession, the Department of Defense's buying power has not wavered," he says.

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