August 16, 2022
By Jonah Grinkewitz
The Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) at Old Dominion University celebrated its 25th anniversary with an event at the Suffolk facility on August 10.
Local, state and national staff and leaders came together to reflect on the research center’s accomplishments and look to the future.
Established in 1997 to train the US military, the research center has expanded its use of modeling and simulation technologies to include medical, transportation, digital shipbuilding, logistics and cybersecurity. As of spring 2022, it had over $15 million in active projects underway.
Morris Foster, vice president for research at ODU, said VMASC alone contributed more than 20% of research expenditure and a third of the non-teaching doctorate. researchers with a view to the University obtaining the prestigious Research Classification 1 of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
“It is very clear to say that without VMASC we would not have become an R1 institution,” he said.
The center is not only at the forefront of higher education. More than 30,000 high school students have completed VMASC’s Digital Shipbuilding program, which engaged them in engineering, data science, modeling and simulation to prepare the next generation of construction workforces and Hampton Roads Ship Repair.
Thanks to VMASC, ODU also obtained the first master’s and doctorate. modeling and simulation students in the country in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
“Your impact has been felt across the Commonwealth and you have played a vital role in helping to prepare the next generation of STEM students through the Digital Shipbuilding program, which will be so important if the United States is to be able to compete with more other countries in the 21st century,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who addressed the audience in a pre-recorded message.
US Senator Mark Warner also offered his congratulations in a video message.
“I am thinking of first becoming involved with VMASC in my early years as Governor (2002-2006), and have seen the importance of modeling and simulation grow in the Commonwealth and across the country for the past 25 years,” he said.
US Representative Bobby Scott was the keynote speaker for the event, and he explained how VMASC’s modeling and simulation capabilities helped the US military transition to more cost-effective post-Cold War training.
“You don’t have to repair, all you have to do is reboot,” he said.
David Young, Deputy Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center, and David Dean, Deputy Director of Jefferson Lab, spoke about the continued importance of their partnership with VMASC.
“Not only do we have great collaboration on the research side, but your production of this next generation, this education to develop this capability that we have is so important, whether it’s for national security or for NASA’s mission or even for the region’s economic growth,” Young said.
Dean said the synergy of Jefferson Lab’s data and VMASC’s analytical capabilities is key to addressing real-world challenges – “taking the expertise we have, looking at the nuclear physics data at JLab and applying it with your help to health sciences and health disparities in the region.
Eric Weisel, Executive Director of VMASC, concluded the celebration by looking to the future.
“All these digital technologies that we have at VMASC, we apply them to improve the way we live and work,” he said. “To me, this is what digital transformation is, and VMASC is ready for the digital future and the next 25 years.”