ORLANDO, Jan. 28 – Orlando’s Research Park, the nation’s epicenter for simulation and training-related research and development, will soon be the home of the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team. The STE-CFT is spearheading the Army’s efforts to modernize training using state-of-the-art technology to bring together virtual and real world environments that will better prepare and protect soldiers. Beginning this spring, the team will operate from UCF’s Partnership IV building, where they will work alongside the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation and a contingent of researchers from UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training.
“The long-standing partnership between UCF and the U.S. military grew stronger today,” said UCF President Dale Whittaker. “Together, this research will contribute to our nation’s welfare and the safety and success of the men and women who defend our country.”
Currently based at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the STE-CFT will relocate its lab, operations, and 35 technical and administrative employees to their new location in the Partnership IV building. STE enables the current and future training environment, providing commanders with the ability to train as they will fight – with organic equipment, opposing forces, and terrain.
“The STE-CFT headquarters here is evidence of the Army’s commitment to partner with academia and industry simulation leaders to rapidly develop and field the Synthetic Training Environment,” said Major General Maria Gervais, STE-CFT Director.
A contingent of modeling and simulation researchers from UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training will occupy 2,200 square feet in the Partnership IV building space, co-locating with Army personnel in the new lab space to assist in developing new training technology.
The arrival of the STE-CFT was celebrated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today at the site of the new lab. Guest speakers included Whittaker, Army Lieutenant General James Richardson, and Chief Operating Officer George Cheros of the National Center for Simulation.
“The Army knows it must partner with academia and industry to innovate and develop the advanced technologies that will support the Synthetic Training Environment vision,” said retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Baptiste, President and CEO of the National Center for Simulation. “The epicenter of the nation’s modeling and simulation industry right here in the Research Park is where that will happen and the State of Florida and UCF’s strategic investment in Partnership IV provides the infrastructure for the STE-CFT to lead that innovation.”
The quintet of Partnership Buildings in Research Park – individually called Partnership I through V and known as the John C. Hitt Partnership Complex – are owned by UCF and are home to thousands of high-wage jobs in a variety of federal defense agencies, the National Center for Simulation, and UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training.
The Partnership Complex is the country’s central hub for the organizations leading America’s military simulation training and modeling efforts. The complex co-locates commands from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, along with industry leaders, academia, and local, state and federal government organizations. The entities in the complex design, develop, and procure a wide variety of technologies and training devices that prepare sailors, soldiers and pilots to serve the nation.
Partnership IV, along with Partnership V, was acquired by UCF in the last three years. The Orlando Economic Development Commission and the National Center for Simulation, which together chair the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force, teamed with UCF to protect the region’s modeling and simulation industry from military closure actions when high lease expenses and base overcrowding threatened existing facilities. UCF received state funding to acquire the buildings and lease space back to the military commands. This generated more than 200,000 square feet of office space and enabled federal employees to move in and continue their high tech operations in Central Florida.
Established in 1978, Research Park drives a $6 billion simulation and technology industry in the state. It contains a total federal workforce of nearly 3,000 employees located within the Partnership Buildings, the Navy Support Activity (Naval Base), and various commercial office buildings. It covers 1,027 acres and is the largest research park in the state and the fourth largest in the country.