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Trio of ODU Researchers Takes Top Prize for Paper on Interoperability at MODSIM Conference

A submission by three Old Dominion University researchers was selected as the top paper at the recent MODSIM Modeling and Simulation Conference in Virginia Beach.

The paper, "Interoperability Standards for Medical Simulation Systems," initially was selected as the top paper in the medical M&S track at the conference. The best paper was selected from the top papers from each track. Other track winning papers included submissions from Yale, UCLA and the Naval Postgraduate Academy.

The three ODU authors - Andreas Tolk, professor of engineering management in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology; Saikou Diallo, research assistant professor at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center; and Jose Padilla, research scientist at VMASC - say this recognition affirms that their body of research on interoperability in modeling and simulation concepts could have applicability across many more disciplines.

"This paper makes a very, very strong case for modeling and simulation as a science, not just as a tool," said Tolk, who recently returned from the NATO M&S Symposium in Bern, Switzerland, where he served as the technical evaluator for NATO's Research and Technology Organization.

When it comes to M&S, interoperability is the effort to use existing solutions to modeling and simulation problems in other areas, while learning from common approaches and avoiding familiar mistakes. By "breaking the glass" between the individual "cylinders of excellence" in M&S, interoperability can lead to efficiencies and allow researchers to avoid repeating mistakes across different disciplines.

For their MODSIM contribution, the ODU researchers relied on their expertise in interoperability gained from research conducted in the military M&S domain, which they extended to medical M&S research, looking for ways to drive this area forward. "What can we learn from each other? What is a common core to all application domains?" Those are the key questions the researchers asked.

"The idea is having a common language, applicable to all the silos where research is being done," Padilla said. "That way mistakes are not repeated."

The paper highlights the collaboration of the Batten College's Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering with VMASC, as well as the leadership role that ODU plays in the M&S research domain.

Tolk, who said that ODU's research into interoperability goes further, explained by using a wheel as an example, where the spokes represent the areas of M&S research: medical, transportation and military. "Modeling and simulation engineering provides solutions to each domain, but modeling and simulation science is the common hub. It gives stability to the wheel," Tolk said.

ODU is well positioned at the forefront of interoperability research in modeling and simulation because of the multidisciplinary M&S expertise that already exists at the university. In the past two years, interoperability research at VMASC has attracted nearly $1 million in investment, mostly from the Department of Defense.

The field is still maturing and gaining acceptance, however. "Ideally, we will get M&S to the level of mathematics," Diallo said. "Interoperability is a widely used term, but it's not yet widely accepted. On an informal level, you might believe it would work, but until we scientifically prove it, show the numbers, it won't gain full acceptance."

This article was posted on: October 24, 2011

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