Once again, the STEM Pavilion was jumping at this year’s Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). Numerous booths, put together by the Central Florida STEM Council, Serious Game Showcase & Challenge, and the Future Leaders Pavilion, drew in thousands of visitors over the four days.

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Sue Whitsett, director of the National Science Teachers Association Army Education Outreach Program with Dr. Neal Finkelstein of the Army Research Lab at the Army Education Outreach Program Booth in the STEM Pavilion at I/ITSEC.

A robotics camp for kids, an M&S camp for teachers, as well as more than 500 students and teachers from middle schools, high schools and ROTC units were engaged by presentations and hands-on demonstrations. This year, the Army Education Outreach Program (AEOP) also participated for the first time, as Mr. Louie Lopez, program manager for the AEOP, made his first visit to I/ITSEC and gave some remarks at the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge award ceremony.

Dr. Irwin Hudson, science and technology manager at the Army Research Lab and STEM ambassador for AEOP, said, “The I/ITSEC event floor gives students and teachers valuable experience that motivates and inspires them to discuss STEM in the classroom.”

At the I/ITSEC awards banquet, Air Force keynote speaker General Ellen Pawlikowski echoed the importance of the future M&S workforce. Mentioning in her remarks that modeling and simulation will have a dramatic cost savings to the military as we start to realize the potential of integrating technologies into a Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) environment.

Dr. Neal Finkelstein, chief engineer for the Army Research Lab here in Central Florida, and who has been working with the Central Florida STEM community for many years, said, “The Service representative visionaries for I/ITSEC long ago realized that the only way for future MS&T technologies to be put in the hands of the military is with a strong and vibrant STEM workforce. Keeping the workforce pipeline filled with students pursuing STEM degrees is vital to the government, academia and industry in Florida. Whether you’re talking 240 MS&T companies, 470 aviation companies or even Medical City at Lake Nona.”