• New DoD-funded STARBASE program in Central Florida graduates 61 students
  • The curriculum is a joint effort between civilian, military, academia, and modeling, training, and simulation experts from the community

STARBASE Central Florida officially celebrated its opening at a ribbon cutting in the University of Central Florida Partnership III Building, coming on the evening of its first graduation of the 61 students who completed the program.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense (DoD)-funded program that immerses at-risk youth in an engaging Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) environment. The STARBASE Central Florida location specializes in introducing students to the world of modeling, simulation, and training (MS&T) – perfectly at home in Orlando, Florida, the epicenter for MS&T. It focuses on workforce development through partnerships with industry, government, and academia. It is a part of the national STARBASE Department of Defense youth program that provides 25 hours of STEM education over five weeks for 5th graders from underserved communities.

Partnering with Central Florida schools, Team Orlando teaches an established DoD curriculum and customized M&S program, a joint effort from an extensive group of peers, which includes civilian, military, academia, and modeling, training, and simulation experts from the community.

“NCS (National Center for Simulation) and the core Team Orlando members, including all four services, were already providing various STEM experiences to students in our community,” said George Cheros, president and CEO for National Center for Simulation, a member of Team Orlando and the organization charged with managing the STARBASE award. “Adding the STARBASE curriculum allows us to involve 5th graders, a targeted age that was missing previously from our overall plan. Now we are offering opportunities at every level to grow and expand our future workforce, allowing students to consider a future for themselves in a STEM-related field.”

The road to win the award of the STARBASE Central Florida began with the already established Team Orlando efforts for STEM education, but was supercharged with the work of NCS, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) and the University of Central Florida (UCF), to create a plan to bring it home, not to mention the support from other community leaders like U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy and City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Leaders believe that the acquisition of a STARBASE will expand and diversify the number of Central Florida students introduced to STEM skills and the military, and help to build a talented workforce in Florida, but will also help close the STEM achievement gap that has emerged between the United States and other countries.

“NCS spends a great deal of time on improving our MS&T pipeline initiatives because our nation’s security hinge on maintaining a robust pipeline of STEM talent,” said Neal Finkelstein, Ph.D., COO of NCS.

Finkelstein noted, for example, in the DoD civilian workforce, the largest portion of the technical workforce falls within the range of 45 to 63 years old. One in five employees of this workforce is eligible to retire, which means by 2025, almost 50 percent of our workforce will be eligible for retirement.  

“When we talk about a modernized force in 2035 and 2045, we can’t get there without inspiring a generation to be scientists and engineers in our military labs, the industrial base or at universities,” said Finkelstein. “You never know which young person is going to change the world for the better.”

Complementing the efforts of STARBASE, NCS also supports an M&S Certification program that is industry-accredited and aligned with the M&S framework and standards. It is available to novice M&S professionals throughout the nation. Information about the certification, study guide, and teacher certification is on the NCS website.