The 9th International
Multidisciplinary Modeling & Simulation Multiconference
University of Genoa
University of Calabria
Smackdown at I3M2011, Wien
Special Session and a Demonstration of Smackdown will be presented during I3M2012 in connection with NASA Center. The event is a follow up from previous Smackdown in Boston, Rome and Orlando. In fact, Smackdown is a “distributed,” multi-team cooperative competition that occurs simultaneously across multiple time-zones. Participating teams design, model, program, test, and operate a simulated spacecraft—or other mission device such as a rover or satellite—on a simulated mission from the Earth to a virtual moon base. To achieve mission success, teams must consider the laws of physics, gravity, trajectory data, fuel, payload size, and landing site characteristics just as they would with a real-life mission. The simulation is complex and requires a number of components, diverse systems, and organizations—distributed across the globe—to work in tandem, emphasizing and demonstrating the concept of “interoperability.” In this instance of distributed simulation, each team will have access to a common and seamless platform from which to work regardless of location. This will include NASA simulation components, SISO (simulation interoperability standards organization) provided standards (HLA IEEE 1516-2010), industry supplied High Level Architecture (HLA) software, and the option of using HLA toolbox for Matlab. The idea for Smackdown was conceived by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) engineer Zack Crues and implemented by NASA and SISO Space Community Forum to encourage students to learn about the importance of modeling and simulation. In addition, the event provides students with a great opportunity to gain valuable skills by doing real work in this fast-growing and recession-proof segment of the economy. In the process, students become “job-ready” and more employable than the average college graduate. Smackdown also forges a much-needed relationship between stakeholders in academia, the marketplace, and government. Smackdown seeks to strengthen the M&S community across industry, government, and academia. M&S is an increasingly valuable tool in science and engineering, with applications that span virtually all industries and services.
It gives us the ability to imitate and explore the facets of complex real-world experiences without incurring the risk, expense, and time associated with building, testing, and training in the real world. To date, educational programs that provide a strong background in modeling and simulation are rare, especially ones designed to help students become more employable. As more people realize the benefits of M&S, the need to educate, train, and certify M&S practitioners, researchers, and teachers will become increasingly apparent. Efforts to meet this challenge can take a number of forms such as academic degree programs, non-degree professional education, professional certifications, and educational outreach. More secondary school programs are giving attention to modeling, simulation, and related emerging technologies. However, these programs are mostly in the engineering, computer science, and medical degree tracks. The lack of investment and planning energy does not mean that M&S leaders believe that a skilled workforce is unimportant. Indeed, numerous stakeholders have identified the need for competent and seasoned modeling and simulation professionals. Nonetheless, members of the simulation community perceive a persistent gap in workforce development and have identified many factors that may be hindering the “mending” process. Smackdown, along with other efforts, is an engaging, fun, and novel way to help remove these obstacles and facilitate the creation of a robust culture of M&S professionals. Smackdown’s potential as a satisfying, scalable, and ambitious yet “doable” undertaking sparked enthusiastic support from the M&S community.
It was demonstrated for the first time in Boston in April, 2011, at the Spring Simulation Multiconference and in September 2011 in Rome during I3M Conference. Teams participated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Alabama at Huntsville, Pennsylvania, North Carolina State Colleges, University of Bordeaux (France) and Genoa University (Italy) as well as interns at JSC. The university teams and their faculty advisors consulted with a wide range of organizations, including: NASA, SISO, AEgis Technologies, ForwardSim, MÄK, and Pitch Technologies. The Smackdown Executive, Outreach, Planning, and Technical Committees, who spearheaded this event, provided organizational and technical advice, recruited participants, and gained valuable publicity. Additional support was provided by other members within the international M&S community. These groups formed the backbone of Smackdown and continue their vital support today. For the event, students had access to SISO’s standards for High Level Architecture Evolved (HLA-evolved). NASA provided the “federates” or virtual components of the simulation, including the orbit shuttle and transport rover, as well as technical and mentoring support. MÄK and Pitch Technologies provided the HLA software, while ForwardSIM supplied the Matlab programming tools and training, 3D viewer, and Simulink platform, which reduced the programming learning curve and created a more engaging and memorable experience. Other Industry, Academic and Government mentors advised students on technical issues, enabling them to build and populate the 3D simulated environment with greater ease. The outcome of this initiative was the successful planning, experimentation, testing, and demonstration of their work during the SISO Smackdown event.
The M&S Multiconference moving around the World and along the Years attended by Top Experts from Mediterranean, Latin & North Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia