Honoring Women Who Are Leading the Way in Central Florida
Angela Alban | Spirit of Innovation
Angela Alban said once that although she is an entrepreneur “I am, at my very core, an engineer and, like all engineers, I like to solve problems. Currently, my passion lies in the desire to solve medical education and training problems and to address training gaps.”
It is a passion that led her to start Simetri, a supplier of highly sophisticated medical mannequin and simulation products. These amazing, life-imitating technologies enable medical workers and frontline medics to respond to emergency situations with sharpened skills, much like what a pilot experiences in a flight simulator.
The experience is so real, often it is difficult to distinguish from reality. Originally developed for military applications,
it is now being utilized for intense
“We collaborate with trainers, trainees and other stakeholders to identify and solve training problems faced by those responding to America’s warfighters, or clinical and medical experts. We define the needs for future training through research and engineering principles and create the solutions that are so desperately needed by our users – the training experts in the governmental and commercial marketplace,” she explained.
American Dream 2.0
Some of Alban’s drive comes from her own remarkable story. As the nation continues to debate and examine how to handle the issues around immigration, Alban serves as the prototype of everything this nation gains as a result of opening doors to the aspiring and the hopeful from around the world. Alban came to this country as a child from Columbia. After the family tourist visa expired they stayed, living under the INS radar for a number of years before being naturalized under an amnesty program created by the Reagan administration.
“Both my parents were college educated, but wanted more for us, both in terms of education and for an education that would lead to meaningful employment. Being in that ‘illegal alien’ position is something we thought about every day. It made us very close knit and we remain close today. Contrary to what many believe, my parents came here to give and to provide, not to take and I’m always proud to share that,” Alban said.
Alban and her brothers graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. “Growing up we were somewhat sheltered, but at 18 my parents expected us to launch out on our own. If my mother had her way I would have gone to Harvard or Cornell. Emory however, was an amazing place academically and there is a philosophy of giving back that permeates the culture there which had a deep impact on me. Because I was a computer science and math major, my classes were relatively small, which was advantageous for me, unlike what I would have experienced at Georgia Tech.” Though she received some scholarship funding, she also worked 40 hours a week at the Emory Eye Clinic to help cover expenses.
A graduate of Winter Park High School, she returned to Orlando to pursue a graduate degree in computer engineering and landed a job as an entry-level engineer. As she explained, it was necessity and opportunity that led Alban to launch her business. “I worked for an entrepreneur that was not performing on the government contracts I was helping with and the company was being run into the ground. I knew I couldn’t continue and I asked Waymon Armstrong (Founder and CEO, Engineering & Computer Simulation) what he thought about me starting my own company,” she shared. “He not only encouraged me, he hired me as a consultant and allowed me the independence to build my company. Waymon and Carol Ann Dykes (Site Manager for the UCF Business Incubator) were incredibly helpful to me.”
“Starting my own business was something I always wanted to do, just like I wanted to be a mother and have a family” she said. “As a child, I thought I would be a doctor with my own practice; I even thought my brothers and I would have a medical practice together, but we chose different paths, though we still work together. Sometimes I regret it, because I know I could have done it, but medicine just didn’t look like the best option for me,” she said.
An accomplished engineer, Alban is moving forward with intention as an industry spokesperson and strong voice for empowering women in the marketplace, using her own remarkable story as the most arresting illustration.
And though she did not open the medical practice she dreamed of as a young girl, her business model places her right in the middle of cutting-edge medical training. “As healthcare education evolves, we will eventually see a more standard utilization of simulation technologies, to replace some of the current training methodologies we use now. In other words, with a live patient. There is resistance, understandably, but even organizations like the Veterans Aministration are starting to adopt it; because it is a portable, realistic, immersive experience, that also has measurable outcomes, delivered in a less