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Valencia Holds Roundtable on Possible M&S Degree
TOPICS & CATEGORIES
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
Just last month, representatives from academia, industry and government met at Valencia Community College (Orlando, Fla.) for a roundtable to discuss the possibility of creating a degree in Modeling and Simulation as a bridge from high school to an M&S graduate degree.
Valencia Community College hosted a collaboration day, inviting representatives from industry, government and academia in the Central Florida area to talk about the future development of a Bachelors Degrees in the area of Engineering and Technology.
The collaboration day idea spawned from a discussion between Valencia’s Dean of Engineering, Computer Programming and Technology, Dr. Lisa Macon, and Dr. Nasser Hedayat, Assistant Vice President for Career and Workforce Education. They were talking about the possibility of future development of a Bachelors Degrees in the area of Engineering and Technology.
“I am serving on Mayor Jacob’s Blue Ribbon Commission for the MS&T industry, and have learned quite a bit about education opportunities in MS&T,” Macon explained. “Although the National Center for Simulation developed and is supporting a high school curriculum for MS&T, and University of Central Florida has graduate M&S programs, there is no undergrad that we know of anywhere but in Virginia. Old Dominion University produces an entry-level engineer or technologist at the baccalaureate level.”
Macon admitted this all seemed “very serendipitous” and after consulting with their campus president, Dr. Falecia Williams, she and Hedayat decided to further explore the possibility, which led them to the April 9 roundtable at Valencia’s West Campus. Although the initial discussions and plans are exciting, Macon and Hedayat are still consulting with their upper administration to move forward, and if approved, the soonest they would be able to start offering courses in such a program would potentially be 2017.
“Given the current demand and forecast for Modeling and Simulation jobs in the Central Florida area, as well as throughout the country, Bachelors degrees with options in M&S are worth exploring,” said roundtable attendee, Sunny Simmonds, Technology Transfer Program Manager/STEM Coordinator, Research and Technology Office, NAWCTSD. “A key component to such degrees will be relevant internships which area companies could easily provide.”
Although the idea is just developing, it would offer a disciplinary program in a 2+2 format. Students graduating from a variety of Associate degree programs possibly including Electronics Engineering Technology, Computer Programming & Analysis, Engineering, and maybe even Psychology, with a human factors focus, would then enter the upper division program at the state college and learn the basics of the MS&T industry. This might be a mix of simulation development, systems development, basic mathematical modeling and human factors. The thought behind this is it would prepare graduates for entry-level jobs in the industry, while giving them the opportunity to work to pursue their master’s or doctoral degree.
“We believe this program is important because it would give students options for high-skill, high-wage employment, while supporting their families and working toward a higher level of education,” Hedayat said. “We also believe the degree is important for the industry because it will ‘fill the gap’ and provide folks who have skills, education and experience at the Baccalaureate level.”
Attending the roundtable for Team Orlando were Abdul Siddiqui (PEO STRI), Sunny Simmonds (NAWCTSD) and Dr. Neal Finkelstein (ARL HRED STTC), as well as NCS’ Lt. Gen. (ret) Tom Baptiste and Hank Okraski. Industry was represented by DRC, Cubic Corp, Electronic Arts, CAE, Daedalus Technologies, Orange County Public Schools and ECS.
Macon said they want to continue the work they’ve started, partnering with industry and Team Orlando members, to help support MS&T in Florida in any way possible.
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