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Like other firsts in science before him - Galileo (physicist), Archimedes (chemist) and Elizabeth Blackwell (female medical doctor) - John A. Sokolowski now holds a title and a place in history that no one else in the world can claim. Sokolowski received the first Ph.D. in engineering modeling and simulation from Old Dominion University at its commencement May 10.

The program, in Old Dominion's College of Engineering and Technology, is one of only a handful in the world. Modeling and simulation is an engineering discipline that solves complex problems using computer simulation.

"The demand for simulation experts in government, industry and academia is so great that it far exceeds the current supply of modeling and simulation professionals," said Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, director of simulation programs at Old Dominion. "We are delighted that our program has produced the world's first modeling and simulation doctorate."

Sokolowski, a retired U.S. Navy submarine officer, completed his dissertation on the human decision process used by senior military commanders at the operational level of warfare. Since the U.S. military uses modeling and simulation as a tool, accurately representing human behavior was a key need in a simulation's ability to emulate realistic military decisions. Sokolowski's research identified a cognitive process of decision making and computational techniques that could implement such decisions in a simulation.

According to Dr. Mikel Petty, Sokolowki's dissertation advisor, "He produced an excellent dissertation with significant results and set a high standard for Old Dominion's modeling and simulation program."

Sokolowski holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Purdue University and a master's degree in engineering management from Old Dominion. Prior to retiring after 27 years of service, he served as the head of the Modeling and Simulation Division, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Joint Warfighting Center.

Old Dominion's modeling and simulation master's and Ph.D. programs are designed for professionals who are responsible for solving complex problems associated with computer simulation, including software engineers, operations research analysts, systems engineers, instructional designers, design engineers, programmers, computer engineers, web-based applications engineers and electronic engineers.

As part of the curriculum, students may model and analyze enterprise operations, build simulators and develop a virtual reality system, and gain hands-on experience at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, a simulation research and development center administered by Old Dominion.

This article was posted on: May 21, 2003

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