John Sokolowski’s Third Act: Retirement
John Sokolowski has already retired at least once.
In 2001, he retired from the Navy after serving 27 years as a submarine officer.
On June 1, he will officially retire again - this time from his position as associate professor of computational modeling and simulation engineering (CMSE) at Old Dominion University.
After his military service, Sokolowksi became the first person in the world to earn a Ph.D. in computational modeling and simulation engineering - at ODU.
"At that time, there were three universities that had modeling and simulation Ph.D. degrees: ODU, the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of Central Florida," he explained. "I just happened to be the first person to get through the curriculum."
As an alumni and professor at ODU, he considers himself fortunate to have been on both sides of the curriculum. "I got a great education from ODU and have been able to apply that by giving back to the students that have come after me," he said.
Sokolowski spent 15 years as a researcher at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) and served the last seven as executive director. He stepped down from that position in 2017 and almost retired then.
"I was going to retire fully but President Broderick sort of twisted my arm and said, 'You have a lot of knowledge to share with the students, why don't you stick around and teach?'" Sokolowski explained.
"Well, I think that's a reasonable request," he told Broderick. "And so that's what I did."
Sokolowski has watched the CMSE department grow over the years. "We started out as a very small program relative to the other programs that have been around for decades," he said. "We have seen it grow pretty significantly with the realization that it can be used as an important tool in multifaced areas like ecology, transportation and cybersecurity."
"Dr. John Sokolowski has made significant contributions in his academic career to VMASC, the CMSE department, the university and the modeling and simulation society," said Yuzhong Shen, professor and chair of the Department of Computational Modeling and Simulation Engineering. "He is a great researcher, colleague and friend."
Sokolowski plans to spend his free time on his hobbies which include woodworking and boating.
He will miss the students though. "They always provide a unique perspective on life. It's nice to see what they're interested in doing and what their dreams are."