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Modeling Excellence for 25 Years

By Jonah Grinkewitz

In its 25-year history, Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) has adapted its research to the needs of the Hampton Roads region and beyond.

Established in 1997 to provide training for the U.S. military, the research center has expanded its use of modeling and simulation technology to include the medical field, transportation, digital shipbuilding, logistics and cybersecurity. As of spring 2022, it had more than $15 million in active projects underway.

Through VMASC, ODU also graduated the first master's and Ph.D. students in modeling and simulation in the nation in 2000 and 2003 respectively.

Not only at the forefront of higher education, more than 30,000 high school students have gone through VMASC's Digital Shipbuilding Program, engaging them in engineering, data science and modeling and simulation to prepare the next generation of Hampton Roads shipbuilding and repair workforce.

On Aug. 10, staff and community leaders will gather to celebrate these accomplishments and look toward the future of VMASC.

Hector Garcia started working at VMASC in 2000 and has seen its evolution firsthand.

"We are a unique organization where radically multidisciplinary collaboration is nurtured and this has led to breakthrough research that has benefited not only our collaborators, but society at large," said Garcia, who is a lead project scientist on multiple funded projects and director for Collaborative Technologies at the Simulation Experience and Analytics Laboratory at VMASC.

The anniversary event will begin at 3 p.m. and will feature a tour of the facility in Suffolk and demonstrations of digital shipbuilding and virtual-reality simulations.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott will serve as keynote speaker and Dave Young, deputy director at NASA's Langley Research Center, will also provide remarks.

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner will share greetings through a video presentation.

Sachin Shetty, executive director for the Center for Secure and Intelligent Critical Systems (CSICS) and research professor, received his Ph.D. in modeling and simulation from ODU. He said the program taught him techniques that can be applied in several disciplines.

"VMASC provides students opportunities to work on problems that are truly multidisciplinary," he said. "These opportunities prepare them for the workforce where there is a huge demand for skill sets that span multiple disciplines."

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