IBM Bestows Distinguished Coaching Award on IST Staffer

Dr. Glenn MartinDr. Glenn Martin, Senior Research Scientist and director of IST's Interactive Realities Lab, recently received IBM's coveted Distinguished Coach Award "for excellence in advancing teams to the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC) World Finals 15 years or more."

Dr. Martin coaches the UCF programming team, which consistently places among the top teams in the nation. IBM is a major competition sponsor.

This year the World Finals were held in Warsaw, Poland, May 14-18 and the UCF programming team was there. The best 112 teams in the world participated and UCF ended up tied for 36th place. Team members were Matt Fontaine, Travis Meade and Antony Stabile. To qualify for the international contest, teams must first win in an initial regional competition (North America has 12 regionals).

Dr. Eduardo Salas Recognized for Professional Contributions

Eduardo SalasThe Society for Industrial & Oganizational Psychology (SIOP) has awarded IST and Psychology Department professor Eduardo Salas its Distinguished Professional Contributions Award. Honors were handed out during an opening session of the annual SIOP conference.

The award recognizes "an individual who has developed, refined, and implemented practices, procedures, and methods that have had a major, demonstrable impact on people at work, organizations and the practice of I-O psychology." The award comes with a plaque, a check for $1,500 and an invitation to give an address at a future SIOP conference.

This 27th annual meeting of the society was held April 26-28 in San Diego.

IST to Create Human Performance Test Facility
for Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has awarded the Institute for Simulation & Training a five-year, $1.3 million contract to create a human performance test facility that will help assess nuclear plant upgrades and how human system interface designs affect workload, situation awareness, teamwork and performance.

IST's assignment is to create and evaluate scenarios to help the NRC gain a greater knowledge of best practices for modifying power plants and meeting minimal safety standards. The NRC has emphasized the need for automation teaming between humans and agents. Another growing need, according to the NRC is multiple reactor monitoring as nuclear plants upgrade older control centers to more highly automated digital controls.

Dr. Lauren Reinerman-Jones, a research faculty member of IST's ACTIVE Lab group, is the project's principal investigator. "We'll work with the NRC to discover the best designs for meeting minimal safety standards and efficient plant operation," she said.

The project calls for IST to house one of the NRC's two nuclear test simulators. Dr. Reinerman-Jones's group will use the simulator to design and evaluate the scenarios that test crew performance, individual performance and cognitive awareness. IST will work closely with NRC personnel to develop experimentation with actual operator input.

The NRC requires extensive training and rigorous examinations for nuclear plant operators. Maintaining those licenses is a two-year cycle of continual lectures, proficiency tests and an annual comprehensive examination.

SReal Lab Is Mentor for Top-10 HS Student in Annual Intel Corp.
Science Talent Seach

Neel PatelNeel Patel, of Geneva, Fla., an Oviedo High School senior under IST mentorship was awarded sixth place honors at Intel Corporation's prestigious annual high school research competition, the Intel Science Talent Search.

Patel, who has worked for four years with Darin Hughes at IST's Synthetic Reality Lab, was one of 40 finalists and the only finalist from Florida. His research is on how nonspeech patterns of sounds—sonifications—can convey information. The research could lead to a computer-user interface as revolutionary as the graphical interface was 30 years ago.

After graduation from Oviedo High, Patel will continue his studies at Harvard University.

Intel, the computer memory chip designer, since 1998 has sponsored the annual talent search, a program of the Society for Science and the Public. The sponsorship is part of the computer giant's long-term commitment to support math and science innovation. The society's talent search has provided a national stage for original research by the country's best and brightest young scientists.

IST Recognized (Again!) for ELearning Innovation

IST's METIL group, led by Dr. David Metcalf, was among the 40 Public Sector Honorees announced at the 2012 Enterprise Learning! Summit held March 20-21 in Corona, CA. Learning 100 logo

IST ranked 11th among the 40 public sector awardees and has contributed research for several of the top-10-ranked organizations and a number of the remaining 29 awardees.

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 second year EMG has presented Top 100 awards.

IST's Dr. Anya Andrews' work with the RETRO Lab garnered a top 100 award at last year's conference.

The 100 organizations receive awards "for outstanding learning culture, innovation or collaboration that drives performances." Organizations are evaluated across three criteria: Aberdeen Group's Best-in-Class Learning & Development assessment, EMG's Learning Culture index, and overall organizational performance.

Healthcare Going Mobile via Smart Communications Technology

With smart communications technology spreading virus-like around the planet, it was inevitable that health care would catch the bug.

mHealth book coverA new book, mHealth – from Smartphones to Smart Systems, edited by David Metcalf, PhD, of IST, and Rick Krohn, MA, MAS, President of HealthSense, tries to make some sense out of the phenomenon, exploring how mHealth may change the provider-patient relationship forever.

The book explores the many ways that mobile systems—smartphones, tablets, etc.—can be integrated in the all aspects of the healthcare environment.

This is bigger than just "an assortment of [remote] devices or spot solutions," writes co-editor Dr. Metcalf. According to the editors, mHealth is patient-centered, ongoing communication that will be radically different from the current office visit style of healthcare. Achieving this revolution in the healthcare environment will "take a wholesale restructuring of healthcare delivery to achieve an mHealth ecosystem."

Mehran Mehregany, MS, PhD and Enrique Saldivar, MD, MS, PhD, two of the book's 26 contributors, acknowledge that mHealth is "mostly a concept." mHealth optimistically sets out examples of how the emerging uses of an established technology can drastically reorder healthcare delivery in the U.S.

mHealth – from Smartphones to Smart Systems is published by and available from HiMSS, a not-for-profit organization advocating best use of information technology for better healthcare.

Simulations Create Real Fun at Science Center's Otronicon 2012

A virtual walk through Lake Eola Park and a trip through time to prehistoric Florida were two of IST's simulation experiences in store for visitors to the Orlando Science Center's exploration of digital art and science, Otronicon 2012.

The popular annual event, staged in part to boost interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (a.k.a. STEM) careers among youth, ran January 13 through 16.

Student interns from IST's E2i Creative Studio built a virtual model of the Lake Eola Park area in downtown Orlando as part of a study how environment can be used to improve socialization skills needed for success in STEM vocations. The study, which has gained the interest and support of the National Science Foundation, focuses on the overcoming challenges high-functioning autistic young adults face as they enter science-related disciplines.

The trip through time experience is part of the Everglades project the Creative Studio recently completed for Ft. Lauderdale's Museum of Discovery and Science. Otronicon visitors learned about the many prehistoric creatures that roamed the forests and swam in the waters of Florida. The Otronicon demonstration and its big brother in Ft. Lauderdale explore how technology can increase the impact of museum learning.

A third Creative Studio exhibit used "augmented reality," pairing real and computer-generated objects, to demonstrate how robots and people can work as a team in unusual locations. The demo involved a virtual robot visitors controlled as it interacted with the real Science Center elevator. According to an IST spokesperson, the project had its ups and downs, but turned out to be an entertaining way to explore human-robot teamwork.

Other UCF departments also participated in the weekend event.

IST-developed iPad app praised by InformationWeek editors

A mobile application developed by The METIL lab at IST stands at number five in a recent Information Week review of the 10 coolest government applications developed for the iPad.

iPad applicationA team led by IST researcher, David Rogers, who also heads his own start-up and UCF Business Incubation Program company, Allogy Interactive, designed the Federal Register application with input from the White House and the Government Printing Office.

The Federal Register app is one of only a couple of dozen government-developed iPad applications, although that number is likely to grow rapidly as more government agencies buy in to the new mobile technology. Many lawmakers, looking for ways to cut back federal spending, have adopted the iPad as a replacement for the mountains of paper that typically grow during the day's business. Officials predict that as the number of apps increases, document paper and printing costs will go down.

One of the costliest of these documents, the Federal Register, began publishing in 1935 as a daily official journal of record for the U.S. government. The document has grown to more than 80,000 pages annually. Although available online since 1994, the Register only became searchable online in 2009. The IST/Allogy Interactive mobile iPad app raises the document's accessibility to a new level.

UCF, international research team to study space travelers' "spiritual" experiences

Earth from spaceAn international research team of scientists, philosophers and humanities scholars is preparing to go where none have dared before to study the effects of outer space travel on the inner space of experience.

Led by researchers from IST, the Department of Philosophy and the College of Medicine, the study will attempt to answer the question, "Why do astronauts and other space travelers consistently describe their experiences as aesthetic, spiritual or religious?"

This will be the first-ever scientific study of these experiences as it attempts to link philosophy and the humanities with cognitive and neural sciences.

The John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to "supporting science – investing in the Big Questions," will fund the two-year effort. PIs include: Shaun Gallagher and Stephen Fiore (UCF Department of Philosophy/IST), Bruce Janz (Philosophy), Stephanie Lackey, Lauren Reinerman and Eileen Smith (IST), and Garrett Riggs (UCF College of Medicine, Neurology).

The various team members will (1) analyze astronaut reports in detail, (2) select NASA photographs for use in experiments, (3) compare astronaut experiences to those created in a virtual environment, (4) measure effects on physiology and brain changes, (5) study precisely the environmental conditions present, and (6) show how all these factors are interrelated. Since setting up a lab in a corner of the International Space Station is out of the question, researchers will design and build a virtual environment at IST. The Virtual Space Lab (VSL) will be a test bed for experiments that will attempt to recreate the awe and wonder space travelers experience.

Researchers from the Bildakt research group at Humboldt University (Berlin) will study the specific images from the NASA archive to be used in the VSL. UCF's Bruce Janz and Shaun Gallagher, and philosophy graduate students from the University of Memphis will do the hermeneutical (textual) analysis and post-experiment interviews with subjects. On the experimental side, three labs from IST will collaborate to design and run experiments that explore the experiences of participants in the VSL. Stephanie Lackey and Lauren Reinerman will direct the work of IST's ACTIVE lab, Eileen Smith will manage her E2I lab's participation and Steve Fiore the Cognitive Sciences Lab's contribution.

The team will use near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technology to study brain processes and subjective reactions of participants in the VSL. Dr. Garrett Riggs from the UCF College of Medicine and Dr. Jonathan Cole from the University of Bournemouth (UK) will provide neuroscientific support.

I/ITSEC 2011 proves to be an award-winning conference for IST and UCF

By the time the 2011 version of the world's largest simulation & training conference closed December 1, IST researchers and students had earned an armload of awards for innovation in M&S.

The week began with IST holding two of the six final contenders for the Governor's Award for Outstanding Achievement in M&S. Finalists were chosen from a field of 58, representing teams and individuals from academia, government and private industry.

Judges selected IST for its developments in “practical ways to produce effective training.” Also selected was a team from IST's ACTIVE Lab, leading a project for the Office of Naval Research. The team is headed by IST's Dr. Stephanie Lackey.

Marissa Shuffler, a UCF psychology graduate student, carried home a $10,000 scholarship to help continue her Ph.D. work. Ms. Shuffler is a doctoral candidate and a graduate research associate at IST. Her areas of expertise include team and leader training and development, intercultural collaboration, multi-team systems, and decision-making/adaptation, with an emphasis on high risk and complex environments.

Students working in the RETRO Lab at IST won Best Student Game at the Serious Games Showcase. Garden Defense, funded by the Defense Centers of Excellence, helps prepare deploying soldiers for the psychological challenges they will face during the stages of deployment. UCF Modeling and Simulation doctoral student Lucas Blair (who has since passed his defense) designed the game. Students Danielle Chelles, Katelyn Procci and Lucas Blair managed production, with assistance by artist Danielle Chelles and programmer Skyler Goodell, an undergraduate in UCF's computer engineering program.

IST joins a collaboration of government, academic and industry partners for annual simulation conference/trade show

The week following Thanksgiving is, traditionally, time for the annual Interservice/Industry Simulation Training and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center.

Billed as "the worlds largest modeling, simulation and training conference," I/ITSEC annually brings in about 20,000 registrants and nearly 600 exhibiting companies, including more than 2,000 international registrants from 57 countries.

As a conference exhibitor, IST joins a collaborative effort with the Orlando-based National Center for Simulation and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council representing local industry, economic development commissions from Metro Orlando, Volusia, Brevard and Manatee counties, the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), Enterprise Florida, and Florida Hospital's Nicholson Center.

The conference runs from November 28 through December 1.

Ft Lauderdale Museum Installs IST-produced InteractiveScience/Ecology Exibit

After four years of study, Ft Lauderdale exhibitplanning, invention and construction, IST's E2i Creative Studio is installing its interactive addition to the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science's new EcoDiscovery Center. The exhibit focuses on human impact on Everglades ecology with interactive elements.

Scheduled to open Nov. 5 for patrons and the general public the following weekend, is designed to help young and old learn while being entertained by fun activities. Each of the 10 learning areas presents a different aspect of Everglades ecological history. Visitors will get a sense of how various natural and man-made alterations changed the region. Go to the UCF Today story for details.

Distracted Driver Study Creates Cell Phone Buzz

IST's participation in a Federal Department of Transportation-sponsored study of cell phones and driver distraction caught the attention of local law enforcement, UCF student government and even the Discovery Channel on cable TV, giving national exposure to the institute's RAPTER group. RAPTER (Research in Advanced Performance Technology and Educational Readiness), led by Ronald Tarr, studies ways to use simulation-related technology to get maximum training value using equipment and methods efficiently. See more about the Discovery Channel segment Here.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office and Cocoa Police Department recently cooperated with UCF'sDistracted driver image Student Government Association to participate in "Put Down Ur Cell Fone" at the UCF Cocoa Campus.

The half-day event included distracted driving simulations, videos and a drive on the tractor trailer desktop simulator through construction and accident zones while texting. The RAPTER group's study focuses primarily on commercial vehicle drivers.

FDoT awarded the contract based on the RAPTER group's use of driving simulators to simulate distracted driver scenarios in a safe environment and to quantify never-before-measured distraction levels.

Representatives from AT&T and the UCF Criminal Justice Program also attended.

The Student Government Association at UCF's main Orlando campus also sponsors the "Put Down Ur Cell Fone" initiative. For more information about SGA's Orlando Campus initiative see the UCF Today story. You also can check out the UCF YouTube Video about the RAPTER Lab's distracted driving study —HERE—.

RETRO Lab’s "Devil’s Advocate" Takes Bronze at Serious Play Conference 2011

Competing against large international corporate software developers at the Serious Play Conference 2011, UCF/IST RETRO Lab landed a Bronze Medal for its Devil’s Advocate game submission in the Government/Military category.

RETRO Bronze awardDevil’s Advocate is a lightweight, Flash-based mini-game embedded within an interactive learning simulation designed for teaching psychological health skills to military service members at various stages of their deployment. Devil’s Advocate deals with anxiety and depression and provides players with an opportunity to practice cognitive restructuring of negative thoughts as a stress management technique.

The project is sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health.

Development team members for the project were programmer, Skyler Goodell; artist and production manager, Danielle Chelles; designer and production manager, Lucas Blair; instructional systems architect, Dr. Anya Andrews; and subject matter experts, Dr. Michael Kofler and Dr. Clint Bowers.

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