The 2017 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference
From Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
Last week, Orlando hosted the 2017 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) at the Orange County Convention Center. Considered to be the world’s largest Modeling, Simulation, and Training (MS&T) event, this conference has celebrated over 5 decades of excellence in its program. This year’s program consisted of approximately 21 special events, over 20 highlighted activities, and over 140 technical papers, tutorials, and workshops.
The program’s theme this year was “Harnessing new technologies to win in a complex world,” where it aimed to bring the latest technologies and concepts to the training community; the value of big data and big data analytics to improve human performance was the specific focus for the program this year. Bringing background data into the feedback for services can be used to hone skills in real time, provide an enhanced after-action review, and track skills and accomplishments over the lifetime of a warrior or first responder. In addition, big data can also provide digital analysis of best-of-breed training methods, and allow the services to reduce the time to train while contemporaneously improving outcomes.
The conference began on Monday, November 27 with a congressional event highlighting the reshaped Modeling and Simulation Congressional Caucus led by Congresspersons Representatives Bobby Scott, Stephanie Murphy, Scott Taylor, and John Rutherford. Additionally, there was an opening session with General David Perkins, Commanding General of the Army Training and Doctrine Command and Don Ariel from Raydon Corporation, a significant influence in science-based virtual reality training for soldiers. Furthermore, on Wednesday, November 29, a special event featuring Admiral Bill Moran, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, took place in which Admiral Moran gave a keynote and then participated in a panel discussion with key Naval senior leaders from the training and acquisition communities.
Other significant special events included discussions on cyber threats, cooperation between the test and training communities on co-use of simulation, cloud-based simulation services and opportunities for the use of big data analytics in support of improving training outcomes.
This year’s program brought improvements in technology to better the attendee and exhibitor experience at the conference. The National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA) made adjustments to its Show Management app, where both attendees and exhibitors could digitally interact with the conference schedule and the “digital show floor”; attendees were able to “plan your show” by searching and sorting conference and show content in real time. In addition, the enhanced exhibitor profiles included highlights, videos and the ability to set up visits and interact with booth personnel.
The Exhibit Hall included exhibitors presenting products from all different angles related to advancements and research in simulation, training, and technology. Examples of these exhibitors included but were not limited to aircraft manufacturers, and engineering companies and manufacturers; many of these companies overlapped in terms of their products (i.e. aircraft manufacturers improving and developing equipment for the military). Many of the exhibitors had shared products, research, and developments for improving training and simulation for use in the army, giving trainees a more real-life approach in applying their skills. Additionally, other exhibits had focused on simulation related to training in other areas, such as flying an aircraft and driving a vehicle. Furthermore, some exhibits shared products designed to benefit companies and industries. These products included but were not limited to 3-D mapping, the collection and organization of data, and image quality for video and photography. Lastly, some of the exhibits presented products and equipment designed to improve training for providing medical attention to wounded soldiers. It is important to note that each exhibit offered an opportunity for attendees to engage with the booth in a variety of ways, such as test-driving a simulation and training aircraft product or performing CPR on a mannequin with life-like injuries.
Given the significant turnout of attendees at the event, with visitors and exhibitors expanding from within Orange County and outside the United States, the 5-day conference was a popular event following the week of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Central Florida’s robust MS&T sector contributes more than $6 billion to Florida’s gross state product and directly employs more than 30,000 Floridians with an average annual salary of almost $79,000. The Central Florida Research Park, located next to the University of Central Florida, is the epicenter of the MS&T industry and fosters collaboration, cooperation, and partnership between academia, industry and government. The Central Florida Research Park is the home of the National Center for Simulation, founded in 1993.
Thanks to the efforts of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission and its partners, the State of Florida has recognized the importance of the MS&T cluster’s presence in Central Florida and the industry statewide. Over the course of three years (2014-2016), state legislation appropriated $42 million to help the military commands at the Central Florida Research Park reduce their operating costs by moving out of leased space. This will save them millions of dollars annually. In addition to the Central Florida delegation, many other lawmakers championed the efforts to secure funding for this high-value, high-wage industry including Governor Rick Scott, former Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, and Florida Representative Speaker Steve Crisafulli.
Since 2015, Mayor Jacobs and the National Center for Simulation have hosted a highly attended annual conference to highlight the importance of the MS&T industry in Florida. Now in its third year, the Florida Simulation Summit showcases continuing progress, synergy and support for the industry in Central Florida and statewide.
Orange County has also funded the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force (MODTF) over the last 3 years ($25,000 per year) to support their efforts. The MODTF’s actions were supported by the efforts of the Blue Ribbon Commission.