The National Center for Simulation (NCS) announced at the 2014 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference its plans to launch an industry-accredited certification program for high school students, enabling them to prepare for STEM careers with a focus on Modeling and Simulation.

Team-Orlando-NCS-Modeling-and-Simulation-high-school-curriculum-w

The M&S certification exam day for teachers was a two-part event. Once teachers completed the exam, they participated in a small group workshop to review each exam question and its validity.

The certification closely aligns with the M&S curriculum that was developed by an NCS team of government, industry and academia representatives over the past three years, and would require students to pass an examination. Certification would then give students advantages in securing internships within the simulation industry, and positions them to pursue higher education.

The M&S curriculum is currently under review by the Florida Department of Education, and had its genesis with the work done by Old Dominion University prior to its expansion and modification by the NCS team.

A beta test of the certification exam will be offered in April 2015 to students at six local high schools in Orange and Seminole counties: Crooms AOIT, Hagerty High School, Lyman High School, Orange County Orlando Tech Center, Timber Creek High School and University High School.

In preparation for the upcoming student test, ten teachers from the above schools were given and passed the beta examination. Those teachers are: Clayton Donnan (Crooms), Jonathon Francos (Timber Creek), Lyn Higgins (Lyman), Michael Jones (Orlando Tech), Alan Lynch (Mid Florida), Shawna Sherry (Timber Creek), Lindsey Spalding (Hagerty), Doss Sowri (University), Phil Tillery (Orlando Tech) and Jesse Walker (Hagerty).

To date, NCS has received approximately 150 applications from students in the beta test schools, requesting to take the exam. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0, as well as recommendations from two teachers.

“NCS is bearing the expense and therefore no students will be charged to take the beta examination,” said Hank Okraski, NCS Board Member and Chairman of the Education and Workforce Development. “We’re also relying heavily on our team of motivated volunteers to move the program forward.”

Once the program is approved by Florida Department of Education and gets on the State Funded List, expenses will be borne by the state, the schools will receive funding to improve their M&S programs, teachers will receive a “bonus” for each student passing the exam, and the school’s overall grade will benefit as more and more students are certified.

Most importantly, the students will have an advantage in seeking internships, furthering their education, enhancing their resume, and enjoying improved opportunities for scholarships.

The committee’s plan is to administer the beta exam, improve it based on this year’s results and next year offer it throughout the State of Florida. Okraski has briefed other school districts and Career Source Managers along the High Technology Corridor, encouraged and supported by Randy Berridge, FHTCC.

The program is a win-win-win for Florida, the simulation community and, primarily, the students interested in pursuing exciting STEM careers in M&S.
“Florida will be the first state to support this student certification, paving the way for the nation to embrace this unique NCS initiative to develop our future workforce,” Okraski said.