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Personnel from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division’s AIR 220.127.116.11 Rapid Design, Development and Fabrication Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center were recently recognized with a 2017 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Interagency Partnership Award for their work together on highly immersive, mixed reality training technologies including the NAWCTSD Scenario Planning and Effects Control System (SPECS).
This national award is one of the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s highest honors, and recognizes the efforts of laboratory employees from at least two different agencies who have collaboratively accomplished outstanding work in the process of developing and transferring technology and knowledge.
“At the heart of FLETC is our partnerships, and our long relationship with NAWCTSD supports the vision Congress had when it formed both entities,” said Ron Dionne, deputy assistant director for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers Training Research and Innovation Directorate.
“The SPECS is a great example of how working together as a team can benefit many and help to keep costs under control, while not sacrificing the efforts of maintaining our training ‘cutting edge.’ We look forward to the continued partnership and successes derived from our knowledge-sharing.”
The NAWCTSD members that served on the winning team include Rocco Portoghese, Ryan Faircloth, Paul Barber, Richard Hebb, Matthew Adams, Courtney McNamara, Matthew Lankford, Dr. Nelson Lerma and Tyson Griffin.
Griffin, head of NAWCTSD’s Advanced Modeling and Simulation Branch, credited Asuncion ‘Sunny’ Simmonds and Dr. Nelson Lerma for writing and submitting the nomination as part of the command’s technology transfer mission. “A big thanks to Sunny and Nelson for making sure our command and our people had the opportunity for this recognition.”
The five Department of Homeland Security/Federal Law Enforcement Training Center staff members listed on the award are Elwin Collins, Jr., Dr. William Norris, Dr. Terry Wollert, Barbara Hernandez and Vance Fowler.
“Warfighters and law enforcement personnel alike are now more effective in the field thanks to the outstanding partnership between NAWCTSD and FLETC,” said Lerma. “The long-term collaboration between these agencies has created a remarkable track record of success, exemplified most recently in NAWCTSD’s Scenario Planning and Effects Control System (SPECS).”
About Scenario Planning and Effects Control System (SPECS)
SPECS is an extensible, network-based technology suite that helps to put the sights, sounds and smells of the operations world in the hands of training instructors, allowing them to create highly immersive environments.
Dr. Norris, chief of the Applied Research Branch at the FLETC, added that research has shown that the more exposure law enforcement and military personnel have to such realistic stressors, the better prepared they are to quickly make effective decisions on the streets or on the battlefield. One aspect of the SPECS’ presentation system has been designed around the perspective of tying specific cues to cognitive tasks that instructors want trainees to make.
Explaining some of the underlying system automation, Griffin said, “Its dynamic sound effects system is unique, and allows instructors to select sound effects from multiple sound libraries and, with a right-click of the mouse over a map representing the training area, they can prompt the system to automatically mix sounds and select the correct speakers and amplitudes needed to produce that sound mix in a particular geographic location.
“The system also has a robust plug-in capability to add various battlefield and special effects such as smoke and smell generation equipment through common protocols, and can be integrated with after-action review systems to support event-based remediation.”
Because SPECS was developed through the cooperation of both military and law enforcement subject matter experts, it has great flexibility, explained Griffin. “SPECS combines government and off-the-shelf assets to help make it cost-effective and sustainable, and its scalability adapts to law enforcement training facilities that might consist of several rooms to military tactical training areas that spread across miles.”
Lerma emphasized the important role that the FLETC collaboration has had on the overall design and capabilities of the SPECS technology. “Law enforcement training scenarios are typically instructor-led and controlled, so SPECS has been designed to support instructors as the technology operators, as well as to be usable by a range of instructors with a range of skills where the use of the technology is not the primary focus of the job at hand.”
SPECS is operational within numerous immersive and mixed-reality training environments, including FLETC’s Performance Assessment Laboratory, the FLETC Danis City Training Complex in Glynco, Georgia; the state of Pennsylvania’s Northeast Counter Drug Training Center (NCTC); and several U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps facilities including the USMC’s Infantry Immersion Trainers. Since 2013, more than 100,000 law enforcement personnel and tens of thousands of warfighters have participated in the immersive training.
“The NAWCTSD and FLETC teams who collaborated on developing and improving SPECS bring a wealth of experience and expertise to bear in the advancement of innovative training technology,” said Griffin. “We each have deep resources to draw upon— beginning with NAWCTSD’s long history of developing and transferring state-of-the-art simulation technology, to FLETC’s expertise in the influence of immersive scenario-based training on officer performance under stress.”
“Building on SPECS and our other successes, I believe this outstanding, collective effort will continue to break new ground long into the future.”
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