IST lab Receives Governor's Award for M&S Virtual Classroom

Dr. Hughes and TeachLivE™ co-developer,
CEHP Professor Mike Hynes accepted
the award for the team.
Each year organizations from around the nation vie for top M&S honors awarded by the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA). The awards are presented at the association's annual I/ITSEC M&S conference and exhibit (see IST's participation in the conference show, below).

This year IST's Synthetic Reality (SREAL), the College of Education and College of Engineering and Computer Science brought home the Governor's trophy for innovation in team training represented by the teacher training project, TeachLivE™. Go to the UCF Today story for more about the award here and for more details on TeachLivE™ go to the SREAL web site, here.

IST at I/ITSEC 2013 — Booth 1127

I/ITSEC logoIST partnered again this year with the National Center for Simulation, Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Enterprise Florida, MetroOrlando Economic Development Commission, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Duke Energy and the International Council on Systems Engineering to showcase Florida as The National Center for Simulation.

The conference and accompanying exhibits occupied the Orange County Convention Center South Concourse from December 2 through 5.

End-view of the booth at I/ITSEC 2013
Ongoing demonstrations of some of IST's recent research included the RAPTER Lab/E2i Creative Studio collaboration that created innovative training techniques and curriculum for Orange County Fire Rescue incident commanders. The RAPTER team reviewed and revised the training curriculum and E2i designed, developed and produced the immersive simulation to test incident command trainees' decision-making ability.

IST's Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL) showed off their work in cross-platform 3D visualizations for medical applications. Their research includes high resolution 3D scanning capabilities and effective, low-cost motion capture techniques.

Also represented at the booth were the UCF M&S graduate program, mobile learning and games, and Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy. Representatives from UCF economic development, the National Center for Simulation, High Tech Corridor and MetroOrlando EDC rounded out the "Florida is THE national center for simulation" theme with facts and figures on the local business and research climate.

David Metcalf Honored by Nova University

Dr. Metcalf
Dr. David Metcalf, who heads IST's Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL), is one of 16 honorees to receive Nova Southeastern University's Distinguished Alumni Achievement award. The award is the highest and most prestigious honor that NSU bestows upon its graduates. The program recognizes alumni who are changing lives and changing the world by demonstrating a record of distinguished service and extraordinary achievement in a particular profession, discipline, organization or community cause.


UCF Programming Team to Compete in World Finals

UCF's programming team will again challenge the best in the world at the Association for Computing Machinery's International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals to be held June, 2014, in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

The team (Antony Stabile, Danny Wasserman and the IST's own Travis Meade) placed first in the regional contest held the first of November at Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, competing against teams from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. UCF entered five teams (plus two developmental teams made up of first-year students and women) at this year's regionals. The teams carried home 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 16th and 35th place finishes.

"In recent years, over 8,000 teams from 2,200 universities in 85 countries competed in 41 regional contests with approximatley 100 teams advancing to the World Finals," reports the UCF Programming Team web site. Dr. Ali Orooji (Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science) is the team's faculty advisor.

IST's Dr. Glenn Martin, who heads the Interactive Realities Lab at IST, has coached programming teams to no less than third place regional finishes since 1994. In 2012, he was recognized by competition sponsor IBM with the Distinguished Coach Award for having teams reach World Finals 15 or more times.


Conference on "Awe and Wonder" an IST International First

Dr. Reinerman-Jones
IST hosted the first-ever international conference on awe and wonder, "Exploring Awe and Wonder" organized by Dr. Lauren Reinerman-Jones (IST, UCF), Dr. Shaun Gallagher (Dep. of Philosophy, Univ. of Memphis), and Dr. Bruce Janz (Dep. of Philosophy, UCF) on Sept. 6-7, 2013.

The 58 conference attendees came from backgrounds in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and art history and traveled from all of over the United States, Germany, Italy, and more. Conference organizers presented a symposium session of findings from their John Templeton Foundation project: Space, Science, and Spirituality. Dr. Jessie Prinz, a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of New York, and Dr.Michelle Shiota, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Arizona State University, delivered keynote addresses. The 23 resultant papers are expected to publish as a special issue.

IST Researchers Take First Place at Space Tech Conference Poster Competition

Drs. Patricia Bockleman Morrow and Lauren Reinerman-Jones
Dr. Patricia Bockleman Morrow and Dr. Lauren Reinerman-Jones won first place at the Space Tech Conference Poster Competition. The event was sponsored by the Florida Space Institute on September 5, 2013, in Orlando. Dr. Bockleman presented results from a project called Space, Science, and Spirituality sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation.

The poster, titled Understanding Astronaut Experience: Interdisciplinary Integrations, focused on the application of neurophenomenological methodology to examine the experience of awe, wonder, humility, and curiosity in a simulated space environment. Neurophemenological methods apply measurements from psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy to subjectively and objectively understand the experience of an individual. Psychological measures included questionnaires of self-report experience. Neuroscience measures included electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and functional Near-Infrared Oximetry (fNIR). Philosophy measures included phenomenological interviews with hermeneutical analysis applied. Results showed that differences exist between those who experienced awe and wonder in a simulated environment and those who did not experience awe and wonder in all three categories of measures. Dr. Bockleman defended these results a month later when earning her dissertation from the Modeling and Simulation Interdisciplinary Graduate Program led by IST and UCF (see story above).

METIL's Combat Lifesaver App Is a Learning App Challenge Winner

combat lifesaver awardIST's Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL) has carried home gold for Best Academic App. The announcement was made via a webinar scheduled by the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab in Orlando. METIL's lead scientist Dr. David Metcalf and research associate Dr. David Rogers accepted the award.

The Combat Lifesaver application was METIL's answer to the challenge to develop an App for secondary education, or adult adult learning that offers a better way to teach a skill or convey knowledge via a mobile application. is an innovative approach for teaching medical procedures.

The ADL Co-Lab in Orlando is one of two collaborative Dept. of Defense labs (the other is in Alexandria, VA) focused on efforts to enhance the next generation of learners in a next-generation mobile learning environment.

Robotics Club Plays Wild Card for 2nd Place Finish at AUVSI Roboboat 2013*

UCF's Robotics Club team fought bravely against tall odds to even qualify for the finals at this year's autonomous surface vehicle competition. Initially not among the final six teams, the team managed a come-back with a wild-card second-chance opportunity.

First held in 2008, the international competition is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research andRocobtics club check Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Competitors design and build and program their craft to autonomously complete a series of missions.

Once launched, the boat is on its own, relying only on its on-board sensors and pre-programmed instructions to, for example, find its way through buoy channels, shoot at targets, find waypoints and dock with a loading ramp.

UCF Robotics Club teams won first place honors the first three years in competition, but slipped to 2nd and 4th place, respectively, in 2011 and 2012.

A buoy hang-up kept last year's craft, The Gray Goose, off the winners' podium in 2012. This year an improved Goose had an all new crew (team members, left to right in the above picture: Brandon Parmenter, Christopher Brice and Andrew Watson, with mentor/coach Dr. Daniel Barber) and faced an up-stream challenge to get back into the winners' circle.

Florida teams won three of the top five spots this year: 1st - University of Florida, 2nd - UCF, 3rd - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

More information about the event, including video recaps and pictures, can be found at, the Robotics Club, and Robotics at UCF on Facebook (

* Update: Florida Governor Rick Scott in an August 16 letter congratulated Dr. Barber and the club for its good showing at the international competition. "It's important to recognize the role the STTC [U.S. Army Simulation Training Technology Center and the Army Research Lab] and IST play in supporting our organization," said Barber of the letter. "Without this support, it would be difficult for us to perform at the level we do."

Florida MS&T Industry a Success Says Florida TaxWatch Report

"Investing in our state's MS&T sector presents Florida government and businesses with an opportunity to save money while diversifying our state economy and bringing high-wage, high-skill STEM jobs to Floridians," reported Dominic M. Calabro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog.

The assessment was part of the non-partisan institute's June Economic Commentary. IST is noted in the report as an "integral part of the MS&T cluster surrounding Orlando" and an important link between UCF and surrounding government and industry.

The TaxWatch report concludes that MS&T is not only an important part of the state's economy, but also has potential to develop further in spite of—and perhaps even as a result of—government cutbacks and a money-tight economy. Read the full report at the link above.

Elearning! 100 Award Goes to METIL Team ... Again!

Metal trophyDr. David Metcalf and his Mixed Emerging Technology Integration team for the second year in a row have garnered one of the 40 spots reserved for Elearning! magazine's top 100 learning organizations worldwide. This year IST's RAPTER group, led by Ron Tarr, shares in the honor. Metcalf's and Tarr's teams earned the recognition for their collaboration on the MyLearn Portal project.

Elearning! Media Group (EMG), publishers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines, sponsors the 40 public sector and 60 corporate awards, which represent "the best-of-the-best in learning and development multinational organizations," according to the media group. This is the third year EMG has presented Top 100 awards. IST's Dr. Anya Andrews' work with the RETRO Lab garnered a top 100 award at the 2011 conference.


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