From Information to Insight

by CoVaBizMag

Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center Solves Real-World Problems Through Transdisciplinary Collaboration and Research

By Beth Hester

From spectacular collaborations with visual artists-in-residence, to research projects and platforms, designed to help policymakers make better decisions in the wake of the pandemic, to digital shipbuilding programs and STEM outreach and workforce readiness activities, the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center VMASC has been described as a place where “radically multi-disciplinary collaboration is not only possible, but thrilling.”

The VMASC is a secure, multidisciplinary applied research and enterprise facility of Old Dominion University (ODU). Located in the Tri-Cities Center in Suffolk and opened in 1997, it supports the University’s research mission through innovation, workforce and entrepreneurship development, and programs and partnerships with industry, community and academia that create and integrate digital technologies into everyday practice.  A “center of centers” supporting applied research programs across Southeast Virginia and the Eastern Shore, it’s one of the world’s leading centers for computer modeling, simulation, and visualization—it’s also one of the coolest places in Coastal Virginia.

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are integral to the way VMASC researchers approach problem solving, and they form the basis for numerous VMASC educational initiatives and applications: STEM fairs for children on the autism spectrum, flight simulators, cybersecurity tools - even remarkable visualizations of an ancient city as it might have looked thousands of years ago.

Led by Executive Director Eric Weisel, VMASC’s diverse staff of over 100 research faculty, scientists, designers, support professionals and students perform scientific research, develop computational models, and create information-to-insight and digital engineering solutions in the areas of: cybersecurity and critical systems; digital health and health equity; spaceflight and autonomy; maritime systems; cybersecurity; digital shipbuilding; policy and decision-making; and warfighter performance and readiness. VMASC faculty even facilitated a project that created and distributed 3D printed N95 masks to CHKD and other interested healthcare partners during the pandemic.

VMASC Centers:

  • VMASC’s Computational Modeling, Analysis and Simulation (CMAS) represents over 20 years of core modeling, simulation and analysis research history.
  • VMASC’s Center for Secure and Intelligent Critical Systems (CSICS) focuses on research in computational modeling and analysis leading to safe, reliable and resilient critical systems.
  • The Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium (HRBRC) is a state‐funded collaboration between ODU, Sentara Healthcare and EVMS promoting innovation and economic development in the biohealth space.
  • The Hampton Roads Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem (MIBE) consortium represents 500+ regional stakeholders supporting workforce, supply base, facilities, and advanced manufacturing and digitally driven technology initiatives.
  • The Virginia Digital Shipbuilding Program (VDSP) is a platform that responds to technological and workforce challenges due to digital transformation in the maritime industries. VDSP conducts research and curriculum development that provides novel and implementable solutions to strengthen the industry and increase productivity. Subjects include the identification and remediation of training gaps, ship repair, maritime cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing problems. The initiative is led by VMASC with collaborations from industry, education, local and federal government, and community partners throughout Coastal Virginia and the Commonwealth.
  • The Virginia Institute for Spaceflight and Autonomy (VISA) is chartered to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystems for space flight and autonomy on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Describing their projects and research capabilities VMASC states:

“We use models, simulations, and visualizations to generate insights. We understand modeling as a tool to help researchers improve the human condition by challenging conventional wisdom through innovation and transdisciplinary research. We believe that modeling, analysis, and simulation can help anyone better navigate the world; as such, it is our goal to make these tools and methods available, accessible, and understandable to everyone.”

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