Orange County Government, Florida
17 September 2015
Florida Simulation Summit Highlights
Commercial Simulation Industries
Mayor Jacobs joined staff from the OCPS Tech Centers and students from Timber Creek High School
at the Florida Simulation Summit held at the Orange County Convention Center on Sept. 16, 2015.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the National Center for Simulation (NCS) hosted the first-ever Florida Simulation Summit on Sept. 16 at the Orange County Convention Center to highlight the state’s multi-billion dollar simulation industry and help identify opportunities for businesses to commercialize simulation.

“The symbiotic relationship between co-located defense contractors and our local private sector companies is at the heartbeat of the Florida Simulation Summit and a driving force for future job creation,” Mayor Jacobs said during her welcome remarks at the event. “Simulation is used in so many different industries, and local companies are using technology that’s been developed right here to improve efficiency and operations.”

The Summit’s impressive brain trust included simulation experts on topics ranging from entertainment, medical, education, transportation and emerging technologies. Summit panelists included speakers from Universal Orlando, the University of Central Florida, EA Sports, Space Florida, Limbitless Solutions, Lockheed Martin Commercial Flight Training, Raytheon Co. and Duke Energy.

“We’ve created modeling and simulation curriculum frameworks that were approved by Florida Board of Education this past August,” said Senior Executive Director of Career and Technical Education for Orange County Public Schools and Summit panelist Michael Armbruster, describing their partnership with the NCS. “This represents a tremendous step forward in educating our K-12 and adult students of all ages and education levels in the fields we are discussing today."

Keynote speakers included President and CEO of Engineering & Computer Simulations and Chairman of Mayor Jacobs’ Modeling, Simulation & Training Blue Ribbon Commission Waymon Armstrong; U.S. Congressman John Mica; Florida Simulation Summit Chairwoman Beverly Seay and Walt Disney World Director of Technology and Analysis Michael Tschanz.

U.S. Congressman Dan Webster spoke during the luncheon. President and CEO of the NCS, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Baptiste, provided the closing remarks at the Summit.

“Our objective was to raise collective awareness across the industry sectors,” Gen. Baptiste said. “We've just scratched the surface on how the power of simulation can impact industries across the business sectors.”

For decades, the region has successfully showcased its use of simulation in defense, however, many people outside Florida do not fully understand how commercial simulation helps bring Central Florida's internationally-celebrated family entertainment experiences to life.

Panelists at the Florida Simulation Summit explained how simulation technology is also used to train medical teams and parents at Orange County’s state-of-the art hospitals for local children who need special care. Commercial simulation is also used in local classrooms to help teachers with their lessons and help prepare students for highly technical careers.

"We are developing a system to detect weather and traffic conditions, and therefore be more proactive in identifying dangerous situations for drivers,” said University of Central Florida Professor and Chair of the Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering Mohamed Abdel-Aty, who spoke on driver simulation studies on the Transportation Panel for the Summit. “In the future we'll be adding messages, signs and beacons that are supposed to help the driver expect what's going to come."

The use of simulation in defense and aerospace has developed an impressive economic engine in Central Florida. The region’s robust modeling, simulation and technology (MS&T) sector contributes more than $4.8 billion to Florida's gross state product and directly employs more than 27,000 Floridians with an average annual salary of almost $70,000. 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.

In addition to the obvious national security benefits that go along with having the best trained soldiers, war-fighters and first-responders in the world, the impact of MS&T on Central Florida’s workforce is priceless. From the creation of working limbs via 3-D printers to gaming and simulation applications of staggering sophistication, MS&T means jobs and capital investment throughout our region.

To protect this valued economic cluster, Orange County responded to looming threats posed by potential defense spending cuts and base closures by forming the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission in 2013. The Commission is a coalition of community leaders and industry stakeholders that advocates for this high-value and high-wage economic sector in Florida.

The Commission continues to educate key audiences regarding the high level of synergy between MS&T and other key sectors of our economy, including medical, gaming, education, aviation, aerospace, animation, theme park, emergency management and public safety.

Many lawmakers have contributed to supporting this high-value, high-wage industry including Gov. Rick Scott, Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner who recognized the impact of the MS&T industry and helped garner the approval of $28 million dollars over the last two legislative sessions, which will allows the region to provide rent-free office space for local military commands.

Photos from the Florida Simulation Summit event may be found on Flickr for use by the media.