By Terri Bernhardt

On the afternoon of August 1, Team Orlando and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) broke the mold with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) and DoDEA for the benefit of children all over the world. The signing took place in the NAWCTSD board room in the presence of Team Orlando board members and local leadership. The purpose of the MOU is to leverage the strengths of both organizations in the mutual pursuits of advancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum within elementary and secondary school systems.

Marilee Fitzgerald, DoDEA

Marilee Fitzgerald, DoDEA Director and Captain Nakagawa, NAWCTSD’s Commanding Officer, sign STEM MOU

Marilee Fitzgerald, DoDEA Director and NAWCTSD’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Steve Nakagawa signed the MOU giving DoDEA a gateway to all the resources of Team Orlando. “Team Orlando has done such great work over the years, for the DoD, blazing the trail in on-line learning developing a national security prowess and now here we are and we have so much to learn from you,” stated Marilee Fitzgerald. “In this time of efficiencies, our partnership will highlight ways that we can work within existing resources to harness the most valuable resources we have — the innovation and creativity of our students and employees.”

This signed agreement formalizes the relationship for DoDEA to provide strategic vision and guidance and financial resources to enhance STEM efforts via the core curricula, and it officiates the role of NAWCTSD, as an executive member of Team Orlando, to provide Modeling & Simulation (M&S) and acquisition expertise and resources, solely and with the assistance of its Team Orlando team members, to help enact DoDEA’s strategic vision as it relates to STEM.

“Young children are great risk takers, emphasized Ms. Fitzgerald. “They are impressionable and fearless but our classroom models have to change. We have done great things in the 20th century but those days are over. We must push for learning environments that use hands-on technology and be the first to really engage this way. Not only in high school but in preschool.”

Following the signing of the MOU, DoDEA was briefed on Team Orlando’s synergy and the group hosted a tour verifying the M&S expertise within Research Park. NAWCTSD demonstrated the Visual Systems Laboratory, 3D training concepts in “virtual worlds,” and “Intelligent Tutoring” software. Following, the team moved to the U.S. Army Simulation and Training Technology Center where they were able to see and touch medical holograms, see the latest expertise in battlefield medicine and browse through blended simulation of virtual worlds in VBS2. The last stop on the tour was at the University of Central Florida Institute for Simulation and Training, otherwise known through Team Orlando’s halls as “the Godfather of all M&S.”

At the closing of the tour, discussions took place about the promise of this new commitment that will open doors for our younger generations helping them land careers in critical thinking, jobs that require more bandwidth. “Today we reach outside our traditional gates,” said Fitzgerald. “Tapping into a world of innovation that needs to take place to be a competent and vibrant partner in the world at large. We look forward to it and can’t wait to begin the creation.”

Picture: Marilee Fitzgerald, DoDEA Director and Captain Nakagawa, NAWCTSD’s Commanding Officer, sign STEM MOU

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