By Dolly Rairigh Glass
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NCS president and CEO, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Tom Baptiste, gives the closing remarks at the inaugural Florida Simulation Summit co-hosted by Mayor Teresa Jacobs and NCS.

The National Center for Simulation and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs hosted the first-ever Florida Simulation Summit on Sept. 16 at the Orange County Convention Center to highlight the state’s billion dollar simulation industry and help identify opportunities for businesses in all sectors to commercialize simulation.

More than 400 people took part in the summit, which focused on discussions by panels of experts themed by entertainment, medical simulation, education, transportation and emerging technologies, and included speakers from Lockheed Martin, Universal, Raytheon, Duke Energy, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, EA Sports and many more.

“Our objective was to raise collective awareness across the industry sectors,” said NCS president and CEO, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Tom Baptiste. “We’ve just scratched the surface on how the power of simulation can impact industries across business sectors.

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Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs welcomes the more than 400 attendees to the Florida Simulation Summit.

For decades, due to the diligent work of Team Orlando, the region has worked to showcase its use of simulation in defense, however many people only think of tourism when it comes to Florida, and the parks like Disney or Universal. But what they don’t fully understand is how simulation has helped those entertainment venues thrive and how they, too, use simulation in their every day tasks.

Keynote speaker Michael Tschanz, director of systems technology strategy and processes at Walt Disney World, told attendees how Disney utilized simulation originally started in the military sector, and how Disney uses simulation throughout their operation, reaching beyond just ride development.

Rob Kantor, director of business development and industrial engineering for Universal Resort Orlando, was part of the entertainment panel and echoed Tschanz’s sentiments, explaining that Universal’s use of simulation is not only for ride development, but to help understand and improve things like crowd flow and park transportation.

The medical simulation panel featured several uses for simulation, including technology used to train medical teams for surgeries or skills used for first responders. Nemours, a part of Lake Nona’s Medical City, shared a video about simulation they use to help train parents on how to provide specialized care for their children.

Additionally, Limbitless Solutions’ Dominique Courbin, director of productions, captured the heart of the audience as he explained their organization’s mission to provide children with prosthetic arms using 3D printing, and their belief that no family should have to pay for their child to receive an arm.

Lisa Dieker, Ph.D., a Pegasus Professor in the University of Central Florida College of Education and Health Performance, demonstrated TeachLivE, a UCF-developed mixed-reality classroom with simulated students that provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment without the risk to real students.

Dieker introduced her “students” to the attendees and proceeded to ask them all the same questions – “What is simulation?” After a short interaction with each student, to show that the demo hadn’t been pre-loaded, she invited Dr. Kristy Murray, 2015 Florida Simulation Summit committee member, to ask her own set of questions. Watching the interaction between Dieker and the students, and Murray and the students, was most impressive.

Dieker said that classroom simulations like TeachLivE are so important to prepare or retrain pre-service or in-service teachers.

As part of the transportation panel, UCF’s Mohamed Abdel-Aty, professor and chair in the Environmental and Construction Engineering college, spoke on driver simulation studies he conducts, and how his team is developing a system to detect weather and traffic conditions to be more proactive in identifying dangerous situations for drivers.

And down the I-4 corridor, from the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at University of South Florida, self-proclaimed “cyber dude” Sri Sridharan said there are two important things that people can do to help with their personal security: make sure passwords are complex and refrain from using free wifi.

With a myriad of topics discussed, it was evident to those in attendance that simulation is transforming the way many businesses operate today, and that protecting the core of this valued economic cluster is the number one priority for National Center for Simulation and its partners.