By Terri M. Bernhardt

SummitOrange County Public Schools Career and Technical Education Department, in partnership with the Orange County Library Melrose Center, hosted a Simulation Summit to bring together the simulation community, and other local organizations. The purpose was to consider, identify, and embrace more opportunities for Orange County youth through quality education and training.

Lt. Gen. (ret) Tom Baptiste, President, National Center for Simulation, delivered the keynote address and spoke about the origins of simulation in Orlando and where it is today. “For over fifty years we have been creating synergy and collaboration in Orlando’s simulation industry,” Baptiste stated. “We need to take every opportunity we can to invest in and grow colleagues and partners so that children and young people living, learning and growing up in Orlando have a bright future.”

Following the keynote, Hank Okraski, a member of the National Center for Simulation Board of Directors, briefed attendees on Florida’s Modeling & Simulation Workforce Pipeline, a presentation that outlined simulation capabilities and the training that is needed to fill simulation jobs.

“I remember when all that was needed was an engineering degree,” said Okraski. “Today we need engineers but we also need mechanics, financial analysts, art designers and electricians. Orlando has the young talent that is needed to fill these positions. If we work together smartly, we can accomplish this mission.”

Also participating in the summit from Team Orlando were Kent Gritton, Director, JTIEC, and STEM Advocate, Benn Aaronson.

“There are endless opportunities for Modeling and Simulation to support the needs of our career and technical education students,” stated Aaronson. “The simulation summit opened a dialog between industry, government and academia, and set up the perfect opportunity for us to explore those ideas and secure partnerships that we never would have known existed.”

Following the morning sessions, the group was led on a guided tour of the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center. The group watched Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) students interact with simulation demos, then participated in roundtable discussions, and discussed local simulation initiatives.

“We believe collaborating, learning and sharing amongst each other can help further the development of the STEM and simulation curriculum, as well as strengthen the workforce in Central Florida,” stated Parker Antoine, Senior Administrator for Marketing, OCPS Career and Technical Education. “Today’s turnout for the event was exceptional and the roundtable discussions were worthy of future gatherings.”