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Stories from our April '00 newsletter

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ADL prototype demonstrated
Emergency managers stage airport rescue
IT Center's catalog gets smarter
Voice recognition enhances realism
Franceschini to lead Distributed Simulation group
Jacobs is IST Researcher of the Year
Secretary of the Army visits IST

IST demos prototype for ADL-style simulation primer

The Institute’s popular workshop for simulation managers, Modeling & Simulation Basics, soon will be available via the Internet on your personal computer, a product of improvements in Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) technology.

ADL is a Department of Defense and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy initiative to 

“ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and made available whenever and wherever they are required…By making learning software accessible,  interoperable, durable, reusable, adaptable and affordable, the ADL initiative will ensure that academic, business, and government users of  learning software gain the best possible value from the materials they  purchase.”[1]

IST’s developers have demonstrated a Web-based learning module that will lead to a prototype for the ADL version of M&S Basics. When fully developed the module will provide dynamic computer-based training with added on-line student-to-student-to teacher interaction.

Research into ADL environments is emphasizing the interactivity such a program can provide. Using truly dynamic ADL courses, students can organize their learning depending on their background and experience. Dynamic counseling will enable the program to custom-tailor the course to fit the student’s needs and will track what has been learned and is needed.

Student interactivity can be provided when a course is offered concurrently to other learners. Students have the ability, using messaging or chat room formats to “work together” on assignments or can post questions and gain information from on-line forums. Courses can be either instructor-led or instructor-less with moderated forums.

According to research psychologist Dr. John Jacobs, ADL M&S Basics is building on groundwork laid during the Institute’s recently completed ADL project for the Florida Department of Education.

“Answering the Florida DoE’s questions provided considerable data on both hardware and software requirements,” says Jacobs. The course designed for the Florida DoE is intended to help teachers meet English as a Second Language instructional requirements without having to travel to remote class locations.

Jacobs’ team investigated computer processing and communication capabilities across the DoE’s intended audience to arrive at standards for a widely available ADL program.

The Institute’s ADL research is aiming toward deliverables that will comply with the Sharable Courseware Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard, once it becomes available in mid to late 2000.

Want to know more?
Contact Ronald Tarr

[1] Presidential Executive Memorandum Directing Initiatives in "Enhancing Learning and Education Through  Technology," January 1998


Emergency Management: Film at Eleven

Digital video crews of university film studies students coordinated by IST were on the scene as a simulated aircraft disaster played out at a Central Florida airport recently.

Emergency personnel from 12 agencies participated in Emergency 2000, an all-day a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional, community mass casualty and family assistance simulation drill. The camera crews got it all on tape.

Orlando Sanford Airport, northwest of Orlando hosted the exercise. Four area hospitals participated, accepting five “victims” from the crash airlifted from the staging ground by rescue helicopter teams. Even the American Red Cross was on hand to counsel victims’ families.

Exercise planners designed the simulation to challenge the entire emergency response network. A report to the Seminole County emergency action center informed dispatchers that a commercial aircraft experienced a cabin fire on approach to the airport. The pilot was just able to land the plane but in the process crashed into a helicopter and a small private plane.

Fire rescue personnel first on the scene found a ramp area strewn with debris, a trio of smoking aircraft and more than 100 injured, dazed or frightened passengers (realistically portrayed by students from Seminole Community College) scattered about the pavement. The situation required emergency crews to deliver first aid, extinguish fires, neutralize dangers of hazardous materials and direct medical evacuation and follow-up for victims and families. 

Six camera crews (four from UCF Film and two shooting for Spencer Carey, an independent producer gathering footage for a weekly adventure show) produced about 16 hours of video footage on 6mm digital tape. Along with the camera crews, the UCF Film department supplied two directors who worked with the IST producer, information/publications coordinator Tim Barto, to coordinate the shoot. The UCF crews also included a student documenter who logged time and descriptive information for archiving purposes.

IST, UCF and Seminole County Department of Public Safety plan to use material on the tapes to produce a variety of training and informational products. The most innovative of these is a computer-based, interactive simulation.

The user can activate synchronized video and radio data related to specific stages of the exercise through a graphic interface to be developed as part of the project. By clicking on the actual video image of a cameraperson (taken from an overhead crane shot), the user will see the footage shot by that camera and hear the related radio traffic.

 A 30-minute documentary for possible distribution to local and national media is also planned.

For more about IST's emergency management projects contact Dr. Peter Kincaid.

See a related story: Fire/Rescue Station,
Advanced Emergency Management Training Facility

Check out UCF's film program

Above: UCF camera crews position a digital camera
aboard a "cherry picker" for a bird's eye view
of Emergency 2000.

Below: Video production coordinator
Tim Barto (left) consults with Dr. Peter Kincaid, who 
oversees IST's involvement with emergency
management simulation and training programs. 

For more about IST's
emergency management
projects contact Dr. Peter Kincaid.

See a related story: Fire/Rescue Station,
Advanced Emergency Management
Training Facility

Check out UCF's film program

IT Center’s Catalog Software Gets Smarter

The Information Technology Service Center at IST is taking its catalog software development to higher levels of “knowledge management.”

The Air Force, Navy and Army already use IST’s software for cataloging their modeling and simulation resources. A member of any subscribing military service component can search across the three military services for information and take advantage of a number of automated tools that make searching, developing reports, contributing updates and keeping up-to-date a lot easier.

The next step in the evolution is a database application that “learns” as you interact with it. Based on a user-provided profile, past search and retrieval patterns and other factors, the program software helps guide the user to a logically appropriate set of information resources.

“The project started simply to provide the Air Force with a distributed cataloging method for M&S,” says program manager Robert Reed. “It has grown to support M&S cataloging for all three services, the Navy’s training technology and, soon, the National Institute of Justice’s Law Enforcement Instructional Technology System.”

The beauty of this system, according to Reed, is that it can be applied to most any situation where people need to organize and keep track of information and resources. The system, says Reed, is just as suitable for a local middle school, which plans to apply the software to keep track of lesson plans and volunteer resources.

“Anyone with a lot of things they need to share with others can benefit from this technology,” says Reed.

IST’s cataloging system has proved to be a big time saver for the three Services. Subscribers at numerous command levels can be authorized to update or add catalog entries. An electronically linked panel of experts provides quality control.  Although each of the military services has its own separate database and complete authority over what shows up on the system, to the user the resources function as though they are centrally located.

Users can generate locally defined reports that can be as generic or detailed as needed. Output also can be geared to managers’ reporting requirements.

Tammie McClellan, who is administrator of the data, says users will be able to create personalized “search agents” to continuously monitor databases, relevant discussion forums and e-mail. Agents automatically will report new information about user-specified subject matter. It’s like having a 24-hour hotline to a research library.

Cataloging is the first step towards knowledge management, a very hot topic in information technology. The cataloged resources are the “facts.”The catalog’s next generation will add the advanced processes that act upon those facts and produce analyses, communication and a sense of “memory” so the Army, Navy and Air Force can continue building upon what has been learned instead of starting over each time personnel move to new jobs.

IST's Information Technology Service Center
provides a comprehensive array of information
management services. ITSC offers information
technology consulting, application development
and information systems consulting services.

Check out the IT Center's Web site for more
information and demos of many of their services.

They're at:


Voice Recognition Enhances ModSAF Realism 

The Distributed Simulation group at IST recently demonstrated “rehabilitated” CommandTalk software, a voice recognition program that will add new realism to the Army ModSAF (Modular Semi-Automated Forces) simulation. ModSAF is an open modular architecture that supports creation and control of forces on a simulated battlefield.

SRI International originally developed CommandTalk for the Marine Corps LeatherNet project.  It was used in 1997 to add more realism to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Synthetic Theater of War Exercise. A common goal shared by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corp is to replace point-and-click and keystroke methods of commanding computer generated forces with actual voice and gesture commands.

IST is conducting its research for U.S. Army’s STRICOM (Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command). Whereas CommandTalk originally was a collection of agents (including ModSAF) connected by a facilitator, one of the research objectives is to develop voice recognition as a stand-alone application connected to simulations through the High Level Architecture.  This architecture allows voice recognition for multiple players in a distributed simulation.

Another research objective is to support soldiers in an immersive environment.  This support will allow soldiers to give commands to and hear responses from computer-generated teammates.

When combined with gesture recognition currently under study at Veridian, Inc., a voice recognition system with standardized protocols could be used in a variety of military, Internet and entertainment applications.


Franceschini to lead DS group

Dr. Robert Franceschini a Senior Research Computer Scientist at IST recently was chosen to lead the Institute’s Distributed Simulation group. The selection comes not long after his appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Franceschini has been with IST since 1994. In 1997 IST named him Researcher of the Year for his leading edge advances in Computer Generated Forces research. Also that year the Link Foundation awarded him a fellowship for graduate studies in the simulation sciences.


Jacobs honored as “IST Researcher of the Year”

Dr. John W. Jacobs, III  has garnered IST’s “Researcher of the Year” award for his work in distributed interactive learning technology (see story on ADL, above). Jacobs investigates methodologies for evaluating simulation training and automated performance.

A part of the IST research staff since 1993, Dr. Jacobs has over 13 years experience in research and instructional systems development. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Florida State University.


Dr. Robert Franceschini


Dr. John Jacobs, III



Army Secretary Pays IST a Visit

Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera recently paid a visit to the Institute for Simulation & Training for a brief overview of several of the Institute’s Army-sponsored projects.

Army officials included the briefing as part of the Secretary’s tour of its Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM) offices in Central Florida Research Park.

STRICOM’s Synthetic Environment and Technology Management Division is housed in the Institute’s headquarters building.

Deputy Director Brian Goldiez and several other IST senior faculty were on hand to answer the Secretary’s questions about the direction of simulation research and Army training.


Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera (left)
with IST Deputy Director Brian Goldiez



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