Florida has always been known for its white-sand beaches and palm trees. Now, however, the Sunshine State is being recognized as the next high-tech corridor for modeling, simulation and training (MS&T).To understand what this means from a real-world perspective, consider this: If you’ve ever flown on a major airline, the pilot has most likely logged hundreds of hours in a simulator.
Requiring emergency health care? You can bet the doctor has honed their life-saving skills inside a virtual emergency room.At the heart of it all is the National Center for Simulation, a nonprofit trade association, and the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation Training. Both are located in a 1,000-plus-acre research park in Central Florida.
The research park is also home to more than 100 companies, the majority of which are related to MS&T, including Lockheed Martin, which helped develop the park along with the Dept. of Defense; and Cole Engineering, an engineering and technology company that develops simulation-based training and offers technical services to a variety of clients.For Lt. General Tom Baptiste, USAF (Ret.), president and CEO of the association, the merit of MS&T — especially for the nation’s military — is indefinable.”To be able to immerse single or groups of soldiers and [allow them to] move through a city in a virtual environment and create what they would do on a live range in a space no bigger than a classroom is important for all branches of the service,” said Baptiste.At a time of economic uncertainty and budget cuts, being able to send students or professionals through real-life scenarios without the huge price tag is yet another benefit.”
In an austere budget environment, one of the big challenges for combatant commanders is to maintain the readiness of the force with less money,” Baptiste told Florida Trend magazine in an interview. “And simulation in many ways is a safety valve, a stopgap that is part of the solution. It’s a cost-effective alternative to high-cost live training.”So whether the innovation occurs on the high-tech corridor in Central Florida, in medical simulation technology in Northeast Florida, or in flight simulators and commercial aviation training in South Florida, the state has built an $11.6 billion business on MS&T, an industry that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.For more information, visit www.simulationinformation.com.