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VMASC Breakfast Draws M&S Industry Leaders

Almost 100 local leaders in the modeling and simulation sector - from industry, government, the military and academia - gathered at Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center for a breakfast on Friday, Jan. 29, to begin the task of implementing an industry-wide strategic plan.

Called Hampton Roads M&S Strategy 2020, the strategic plan was introduced during a meeting at VMASC in December. The breakfast meeting was held to solicit help from those in the M&S cluster who want to get involved in crafting the direction of the industry, which is considered by many as vital to the local economy.

"We're very pleased to see so many who came back to see where the next phase is going," said John Sokolowski, interim executive director of VMASC. "This really is a major regional initiative that has some far-reaching implications."

Southeastern Virginia is competing with other M&S hubs, such as Orlando, Fla., and Huntsville, Ala., for research dollars and business investment.

Dana Dickens of the Hampton Roads Partnership, one of the key members of the committee of organizations behind Hampton Roads M&S Strategy 2020, said the regional economy has typically been characterized as a "three-legged stool" - with strength in military investment, the ports and tourism.

"But as everyone knows, having a stool with only three legs is a little bit volatile," Dickens said. "We're looking at ways to create a fourth leg for that stool, and make it stronger."

Modeling and simulation, Dickens said, offers "a wonderful opportunity to hitch your horse to a wagon that's going to move the region forward and generate a lot of jobs."

The breakfast meeting featured a presentation about the history of modeling and simulation in Hampton Roads by Thomas Mastaglio, the founding director of VMASC and now president of Mymic, an M&S company headquartered next door. Mastaglio spoke about how a military-ODU partnership was created in the 1990s, pairing the military's experience in the modeling and simulation industry with a university eager to embrace the new technology.

"To see it come to fruition is really great," Mastaglio said. "The outcome of ODU and VMASC was to create a buzz, an impact in the community."

The two main goals of Hampton Roads M&S Strategy 2020 are to ensure that the region is a preeminent modeling and simulation intellectual hub with the best climate for starting a business, and to organize the region to best support the M&S community through collaboration locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.

Those two goals were printed and distributed to participants at the breakfast meeting, with a place for volunteers to sign up to contribute to the strategic plan's implementation.

Sokolowski noted that many of the attendees to both the December meeting and the breakfast gathering were new faces, not the same people who helped create the region's modeling and simulation cluster back in the 1990s.

"What I want to say to you new people is welcome aboard," Sokolowski said. "And if you sign up, you will be contacted. I can promise you that."

This article was posted on: January 29, 2010

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