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VMASC Researchers Are Recipients of Governor’s Technology Awards

Researchers from Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) received recognition for their IT work in the public sector at the annual Governor's Technology Awards program.

As part of the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) Sept. 7 in Richmond, awards were presented to winners in 10 categories based on the decisions by a panel of government information technology experts.

The annual competition, now in its 16th year, received a record number of entries for consideration from local, state and federal government entities. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling presented awards to the following ODU researchers: VMASC executive director John Sokowlowski; VMASC research associate professor Catherine Banks; and Andreas Tolk, professor of engineering management and systems engineering in ODU's Batten College of Engineering and Technology, who is an affiliated faculty member with VMASC.

Tolk partnered with NASA to create a modeling and simulation high school curriculum book, receiving a special recognition award from COVITS

"In an effort to connect practicing scientists and engineers with K-12 classroom needs and jumpstart the availability of K-12 resource material in modeling and simulation, NASA has partnered with the CK-12 Foundation (CK12.org) to develop a FlexBook on modeling and simulation for high school use," COVITS said in a news release.

"A FlexBook, as developed by the CK-12 Foundation, is a flexible textbook - a freely available, open content, creative commons licensed, web-based book that can be customized to the readers needs by employing the CK-12 technology platform."

CK-12 is a not-for-profit organization that produces high school textbooks that are distributed in various electronic formats for free to interested schools.

Tolk said with NASA as the main driver behind the project, "teachers can tailor the book to their needs and provide feedback that can directly be used to improve the chapters, if the authors agree. As all products are distributed electronically, new editions are available at once."

Sokolowski and Banks received a COVITS award in the Cross Boundary Collaboration on Modeling and Simulation Initiatives category for their creation of a Patient Blood Management training simulation, in conjunction with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey.

Working with Dr. Aryeh Shander, one of the world's leading researchers in the patient blood management field, Sokolowski and Banks developed a Web-based simulation training tool, Physician Training in Patient Blood Management, that teaches optimal blood management practices for patients undergoing surgery.

The importance of this research stems from the mounting evidence of issues surrounding blood transfusion practice, including potential negative impact on patient safety and outcomes, the challenges of "blood economics" - the increasing cost to acquire and transfuse blood - and the limited supply of blood products.

This multidisciplinary effort between doctors and engineers demonstrates that Physician Training in Patient Blood Management is a highly interactive decision-making training tool, is user-friendly, engages an artificial intelligence engine and is patient blood management information-based.

"This tool is targeted for high-level medical professionals," Banks said. "I was pleasantly surprised with the collaboration we formed with these world-renowned blood management experts."