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Students Jasmine Sanford and Kadijah Taylor from Thurgood Marshall High School present their project ath the Dayton Regional M&S Competition in September 2012. (Photo by Mikee Huber)
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Dayton Students Benefit from AFRL and Dayton Regional STEM Center Collaboration

Posted 11/30/2012   Updated 11/30/2012 Email story   Print story


by Michela Greco
Air Force Research Laboratory

11/30/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- In the summer of 2011, the Dayton Regional STEM Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) embarked on a collaboration to develop modeling and simulation courses for Dayton regional schools. Air Force Colonel John Franz of AFRL and Major General Ed Mechenbier were the leading initiators of the collaboration, citing the necessity to teach area students modeling and simulation skills in the hopes that those students would invest their skills in the area upon graduation from high school or college. The collaboration also sought to distinguish Dayton on a national level as a hub of the modeling and simulation field.

Together with area teacher Kim Puckett from Tri-Village High School, AFRL and the Dayton Regional STEM Center created a Capstone course for modeling and simulation. The course was offered to all regional schools--public, private, and parochial--that were interested in participating; eleven school districts were trained, with hopes of increased enrollment as the Capstone course gains traction. The guidelines for certification were kept open to ensure teachers could readily participate, and students were given the opportunity to practice at the Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory (GRILL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with expert researchers from the 711th Human Performance Wing's Human Effectiveness Directorate acting as mentors.

Margy Stevens, Executive Director of the Dayton Regional STEM Center, took the collaboration one step further by proposing a Dayton Regional Modeling and Simulation Competition. The competition would serve two purposes: first, it would provide a platform for students who participated in the Capstone course to present their work, and second, it would provide a way to moderate submissions to the Future Leaders Pavilion at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education (I/ITSEC) conference. Prior to 2012, students could submit projects to the I/ITSEC conference without any prior review from industry experts. The Dayton Regional M&S Competition provided a solution to this gap and ensured that only top tier presentations were submitted.

Because the Dayton Regional M&S Competition was held in September, participating students spent much of their summer planning and executing their projects. At the competition, judges from the GRILL and the Dayton Regional STEM Center were very impressed with the students' level of sophistication and dedication to their work. The participants were judged on a variety of measures, including an abstract, paper, project demonstration, and paper presentation. Craig Harrison and Seth Thomas, both GRILL alumni, together with team member Macy Fraylick, were the winners of the competition with a fire evacuation scenario presentation. The Tri-Village team simulated a model of their high school, even including the details of the room materials, desks, and floor texture to outline fire evacuation routes for the students and faculty. As the winners, the team will enjoy an all-expense paid trip to the I/ITSEC conference in Florida in December where they will present at the Future Leaders Pavilion; this is an incredible honor for both the students and their mentors at AFRL and the STEM Center.

It is the hope of AFRL, the STEM Center, and the GRILL that competitions and Capstone courses centered on modeling and simulation will invest in the future of the industry and the area. As is evident from the enthusiasm and participation in its first year, these efforts will enhance the reputation of the Dayton area through the success, innovation, and hard work of its young people. And it is this dedication that will be on display at the I/ITSEC conference next month; best of luck to the students and their mentors in this well-deserved effort!

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