By Sherry DiBari

Researchers from the Batten College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University have been awarded a $1.15 million U.S. Department of Education (DOE) grant to enhance the College’s modeling and simulation undergraduate program.

The grant is managed by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) of DOE. Sixty-nine percent of the total cost of the program — $1,670,069 — is funded by FIPSE, with the remaining 31% funded by nongovernmental sources.

The grant, effective from Jan. 1, 2024, and extending to Dec. 31, 2026, aims to increase enrollment in the undergraduate modeling and simulation engineering major, expand the existing curriculum and establish a nationwide task force on modeling and simulation education.

A hallmark of the grant includes fellowships for qualified juniors and seniors in the program and partial fellowships for qualified freshmen and sophomores. “By eliminating financial obstacles, the College aims to inspire more students to pursue modeling and simulation education, fostering program growth and addressing the shortage of professionals in the field,” said Kenneth Fridley, dean of the Batten College. “This commitment to inclusive education aligns with the University's mission to provide rigorous academics and support the development of a skilled workforce, contributing to innovation and economic growth in Virginia and beyond."

Modeling and simulation are powerful tools that are used in a wide range of fields and industries to help solve complex problems, understand systems and processes and make predictions about future outcomes.

There is a nationwide shortage of modeling and simulation professionals, and the field is evolving fast with new technologies. This project aims to create advanced courses and laboratories that include high-performance computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, augmented reality, data analytics, medical digital twin technology and autonomous systems. The project will also offer teacher workshops as part of its outreach activities.

“Old Dominion University is renowned both nationally and internationally as a leader in the fields of modeling and simulation education and research. This grant from DOE is set to further enhance ODU's undergraduate programs in modeling and simulation, solidifying its position as a premier institution in this domain,” said Yuzhong Shen, Principal Investigator, director of the project and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Co-PI’s on this project are Jim Leathrum, Masha Sosonkina, Hong Yang, Michel Audette, Oscar Gonzalez and Zhongtang Ren, master lecturer in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

The Batten College has a rich history in modeling and simulation education and research, offering undergraduate programs since 2010 and master’s and doctoral programs since 1998 and 2000, respectively. The baccalaureate program, housed in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, offers a modeling and simulation engineering major within the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree.

For more information about the undergraduate program click here.