Originally published on the University of Central Florida (UCF) Institute for Simulation and Training website by writer Catherine Delgado and editor Jessica Compton.

April 10, 2019, marked the UCF School of Modeling, Simulation and Training's (SMST) first annual “SMST Day,” in what will be the first of many day-long events aimed to help students connect with industry professionals. The event was a success, welcoming a variety of Modeling & Simulation (M&S) partners and recruiters, as well as faculty and previous alumni.

SMST Director, Randall Shumaker, delivered the keynote speech, introducing SMST as a new school under the College of Graduate Studies, which offers an interdisciplinary Masters and Ph.D. Graduate program in Modeling and Simulation. SMST is also home to the Institute for Simulation and Training (IST), an internationally recognized research institute that focuses on advancing human-centered modeling and simulation technology and increasing its understanding of simulation's role in training and education. This welcome was followed by a student poster session, networking and lunch with industry partners, IST lab tours, and a poster awards ceremony.

A total of 17 students participated in SMST Day by being a part of the poster session. The student posters consisted of current research, some of which were part of a class project within their M&S coursework. From plants that can send users a text message reminding them to water them, to measuring wind speed with ultrasound, and promoting online safety for adolescents in foster care, these research topics varied vastly due to the fact that M&S can be applied to virtually any field, given its many uses in the testing of theories. However, one thing each project had in common was the attempt to address current, real-world problems. The participating students are currently enrolled in the Modeling and Simulation Graduate Program and stood proudly by their hard work, excited to share their posters with other students, faculty, and industry partners. Of the attending alumni, Mary Ann Hrynko served as one of the judges during the poster session. She previously graduated from the M&S Master’s Program in 2017, and is currently working as a Simulation Database Engineer for Leidos.

Among the booths that participated during the networking and lunch portion was Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center showcasing their current mission, “Fundamentals of Robotic Surgery,” part of a $6-million grant received from the Department of Defense to create and develop a competency-based curriculum for surgeons in robotic-assisted surgery. SoarTech also attended for the purpose of recruiting research interns. The Applied Research Associates Inc. (ARA) was looking particularly for interns and graduates with skills in engineering, software development, python and energetics. A registered student organization of UCF, the Modeling and Simulation Knights (MaSK) were also present. Karla Badillo-Urquiola, the current MaSK president, shared opportunities offered by the organization, such as open forums, professional development, advisory and assistantships, and opportunities to become part of the board. Students had an opportunity to speak with these organizations after presenting their work and learned how to take their careers and education to the next level.

After lunch, attendees were invited to take a tour of a few of the labs that make up IST. Participating labs included the “Engage to Innovate” E2i Creative Studio, SREAL Lab, The Interactive Realities Laboratory (IRL), and Prodigy Lab. E2i demonstrated several of their simulators on a wide range of topics, including hurricane prep, biology, and firefighter training. SREAL shared its Physical-Virtual Avatars as part of their current Augmented Reality efforts. IRL displayed to attendees its lab space and spoke about their research in game-based learning. The Prodigy Lab, which focuses on understanding, predicting and improving human performance, showed their latest work regarding Human Factors Technology Interactions.

The event drew to a close with an awards ceremony where the two best poster winners were chosen by expert judges, each winning a framed certificate and a $150 gift card donated by Advent Health and the National Center for Simulation (NCS). These students were Joseph Del Rocco with his research project titled “Predicting Clear Sky Energy with Machine Learning” and Arash Zarmehr with his study on the “Simulation Analysis of a Ventilated Building Integrated-Photovoltaics Air-Gap Duct System for Natural Ventilation.”

Del Rocco’s study, part of his dissertation, focuses on the relationship between energy and the sky. Using data taken from a spectro-radiometer camera, he used machine learning to measure sky radiance. Del Rocco plans to eventually build a cyber-physical system using this data, developing the ability to improve building performance.

Zarmehr’s published study focuses on a 4,000 year old structure located in Persia. The building maintains refrigerator-like cold temperature in a desert region, so much so that local residents use it to store water. Zarmehr studied the architecture and designed six additional models similar to the original, attempting to imitate and even improve the system and implement the concept to a modern structure. Both students are advised by Dr. Joseph Kider, an assistant professor and director of the SENSEable Design Lab at IST.

This event was organized by the Interim Graduate Program Director, Dr. Paul Wiegand, and Graduate Program Coordinator, Kiersten Seitz.