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ODU Researchers Develop M&S Cube App to Share Information About Modeling and Simulation

Researchers at Old Dominion University have developed an iPad app that introduces users to the world of modeling and simulation (M&S).

The M&S Cube was developed in the Modeling and Simulation Interoperability Lab at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC). The ODU Research Foundation belongs to the official developer program for Apple operating software development, which allowed the app to be distributed for free through it iTunes store.

The free app is available for download at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/m-s-cube/id541665433?mt=8 (search using the keywords M&S Cube, VMASC or ODURF).

Jose Padilla, research assistant professor at VMASC and co-principal investigator for the initiative, said the app was created to provide a point of reference for "all things M&S," with information ranging from M&S-related conferences and journals to news and jobs. Developing a compendium of M&S conferences was one of the drivers. "When we asked around the (VMASC) building about M&S conferences, everyone would give you a different list. We wanted this to be a one stop for M&S users," Padilla said.

It's called the Cube because it has six main components:

  • M&S 101: A brief overview of what modeling and simulation is, including a list of definitions and basic terms.
  • Global: The app provides the location of organizations, from corporations to universities, engaging in M&S activities. This list is updated constantly.
  • M&S Markets: Based on North American Industry Classification coding, the app illustrates how M&S is applied to different industries. It provides samples of companies, educational centers and commercial products that industry uses.
  • Resources: A compendium of M&S-related information sources, ranging from sites of interest, to books, to software.
  • M&S Today: A daily aggregator of news about modeling and simulation around the world, as well as job postings.
  • Support Information: Includes information about the app and about VMASC.

Padilla said the app could play an important role in education, as school divisions and governments place greater emphasis on improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. "Modeling and simulation is a discipline that uses math and supports disciplines ranging from social sciences to engineering, making it a good candidate to exposing people to STEM studies," Padilla said.

Also, trends in technology show sales of desktop computers falling, while sales of so-called tablets (and smartphones, for which VMASC is also developing an app) are increasing. "We saw this as an opportunity, an area to explore. It allows people working in M&S to take their technology with them," Padilla said. The app is currently available only on the iPad, although an app for Android and other iOS devices should be available in a few months.

Saikou Diallo, a research assistant professor at VMASC and co-PI on the project, said the information on the app is aimed not only at researchers and educators, but also at entrepreneurs who might be interested in investing in a modeling and simulation startup. "It gives them a breadth of what M&S application areas are," he said. "We want to provide a one-stop shop for M&S needs, and do it by design."

Hamdi Kavak, a doctoral student in ODU's Modeling, Simulation and Visualization Engineering program, wrote the software for the app after Padilla and Diallo created the concept. D'An Knowles, VMASC's manager of marketing and communications, provided graphic design support.

As providers of M&S research, technology and products get exposed to the app, they can contact VMASC for inclusion in what may well become a far more extensive compendium of M&S resources, Padilla said.

Old Dominion's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, one of the world's leading research centers for computer modeling, simulation and visualization, is a university-wide multidisciplinary research center that emphasizes modeling, simulation and visualization research, development and education.

This article was posted on: July 26, 2012

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