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State Approval Clears the Way for Creation of Undergraduate Modeling and Simulation Engineering Degree

Old Dominion University will soon be the only higher education institution in the United States to offer a complete set of degree programs in modeling and simulation (M&S) - from undergraduate right through to Ph.D - after the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved the creation of a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in M&S engineering at its July 14 meeting.

The program will begin in the fall semester of 2010, with 13 students admitted in the first year. By the end of the 2013-14 school year, the program aims to graduate 28 entry-level M&S engineers every year, to fill positions in the burgeoning M&S field in Hampton Roads.

After a "thorough review" of ODU's proposal, SCHEV staff recommended approval of the bachelor's degree program because of demand by students for M&S instruction, and the need for workers in the field who have the skills in modeling and simulation, particularly in the local area.

After receiving approval in April from its Board of Visitors to apply for the program's creation, ODU made its pitch to SCHEV last month.

"A major component of the mission of Old Dominion University is to respond to the advanced educational and workforce development needs of the Hampton Roads region and the Commonwealth of Virginia," the ODU proposal read.

"Over the past 10 years, modeling and simulation has emerged as one of the region's principal technology sectors. With an expanded workforce, it's likely that this activity will grow at a dramatic rate. We have the potential in Hampton Roads to lead the world in modeling and simulation. The missing component in the educational path needed to expand the M&S workforce is the presence of an undergraduate modeling and simulation program."

Oktay Baysal, the dean of ODU's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, said the university can now provide the "full spectrum" of college degrees in modeling and simulation. ODU currently offers both master's and doctoral degrees.

"Our success with the advanced degrees in this field and the development of modeling and simulation industries in Hampton Roads is among the push-and-pull factors for this new bachelor's degree program," Baysal said.

"It will also have the distinction of being the first undergraduate program in the country addressing the rapidly growing need of experts in modeling and simulation."

That's a niche that ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) has been trying to fill for a few years. The center is world renowned for its collaborative, multidisciplinary applications of modeling and simulation, taking in fields such as medicine and urban planning.

VMASC acting director John Sokolowski said workforce development is key to continuing to grow the M&S industry in Hampton Roads.

"The undergraduate program will provide VMASC with even more opportunity to introduce students to our research and to advance the discipline of M&S," Sokolowski said. "Additionally, it will be valuable for workforce development, which is important for our industry and government partners."

The program will require no additional resources for ODU to administer.

In order to receive a bachelor's degree in M&S engineering, a student will be required to earn a total of 128 credit hours, which is in line with undergraduate engineering programs nationally. The program will require 41 credit hours of course work in modeling and simulation engineering core subject areas; 32 credit hours of course work in math and science; 37 credit hours of general education course work; 11 credit hours of additional requirements and elective course work; and a seven-hour capstone experience.

ODU does not expect the required number of credit hours to impede a student's ability to graduate on time.

Since the 1960s, modeling and simulation has been one of the standard analysis tools used in engineering and science. Locally, companies and organizations such as Northrop Grumman and NASA have used models to investigate the behavior of a particular object, such as a sea vessel or lunar rover, under different circumstances.

With the spread of computer technology in the 1990s, the applications for M&S technology have expanded to many fields, from medicine to disaster preparedness.

To view the VMASC website, please follow the link below:

http://www.vmasc.odu.edu/

To view a video about VMASC on YouTube, please follow the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk2ar_f0RCo

 

 

This article was posted on: July 16, 2009

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