What is Smackdown?
The “SISO SmackDown” is both an annual international interuniversity modeling and simulation (M&S) event and a growing number of interactive problem solving experiences to support job readiness. Both break down barriers to M&S employability. SISO SmackDown gives them an edge.
For the annual event at the Spring Interoperability Workshop teams learn to work with knowledgeable mentors in a highly dispersed environment using standards and simulation software which is in high demand and seldom taught in university. The experience makes them more job-ready.
With few universities offering a major in M&S, SISO SmackDown responded to suggestions and with opportunities to introduce students to M&S, offer them mentoring support to learn scenario development, user interface design or technical infrastructure, system architecture and potential for application in marketing, web development, manufacturing, healthcare and cyber security. Innovative requests are welcome.
SISO SmackDown anticipates participants who know JAVA or C+. Because students may not have access or be sufficiently skilled in these programs, the SISO SmackDown experiences explore other routes to job readiness in M&S. Working with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, this includes a class in M&S at a tribal college, assessment of free online courses, independent study and special projects all designed to break –down barriers to employability. Current efforts explore game technology platforms for SISO SmackDown with potential for demonstration in booth 3070 SISO SmackDown @ I/ITSEC, at the I/ITSEC Interservice Industry Training and Simulation Education Conference 2012.
Both event and experiences offer support to faculty and students for 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. SISO SmackDown forges a much-needed relationship between stakeholders in academia, the marketplace, and government.
Why have a Smackdown?
Employers, government and industry, noted that few graduates were prepared—in terms of simulation design, n architecture, standards , complex systems and highly dispersed teams. Learning on the job is a gamble and training is costly. SISO SmackDown breaks-down such barriers. It is a needed effort to promote an understanding of the importance of M&S life cycle design, user interface, scenarios, standards and interoperability-and more, by networking university students with professionals within the M&S industry, government, and software companies, in a hands-on, collaborative event and customized experiences.
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. However, these programs are mostly in the engineering, computer science, and medical degree tracks.
Numerous stakeholders have identified the need for competent and seasoned M&S professionals. We are aware of the persistent gap in workforce development. SISO Smackdown as event and experiences aim to remove these obstacles and facilitate the creation of a robust culture of M&S professionals.
Who is involved?
Smackdown brings teams of university students together with M&S professionals in industry, education and government.
These university teams were supported by a wide range of organizations, including: NASA, SISO, AEgis Technologies, ForwardSim, MÄK, MBDA, and Pitch Technologies. These groups have formed the backbone of SISO SmackDown and continue their vital support today. Additional support was provided by university faculty advisors and other members of the international M&S community.
SISO SmackDown participants—faculty and students—consult with technical and program teams at SISO, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Johnson Space Center (JSC), a Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and also with AEgis Technologies Group in Huntsville Alabama as well as advisors from Pitch, MÄK and ForwardSim. They, in turn, worked with the SISO SmackDown Executive, Outreach and Operations, Planning, and Technical Committees, who provided organizational and technical guidance, recruited participants, gained valuable publicity, and handled issues as they arose. Once a team is formed, it has access to the SISO SmackDown WIKI maintained at MIT and the SharePoint repository through Aegis Technologies Group. In 2012, the SISO SmackDown initiated a social media community, SISO SmackDown FaceBook to encourage interactivity among the teams.
For the 2013 SISO SmackDown, faculty and students have access to SISO’s standards for High Level Architecture Evolved (HLA-evolved). NASA provides 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 provide the HLA software, while ForwardSIM supplies 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 and government mentors advise students on technical issues, enabling them to build and populate the 3D simulated environment with greater ease. In 2013, we anticipate both a successful annual event in San Diego but an increasing number of experiences that break-down barriers to employment and bring success to a new generation of M&S professionals—gainfully and happily employed.
For SISO SmackDown 2013, event organizers welcome interest from universities in the US, Europe, Near East, South America, New Zealand, and Japan. Additional support comes from the NASA KSC Center for Life Cycle Design’s (CfLCD) summer intern team, Creative Humanics Laboratory (CHL). CHL, comprised of students from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and other tribal colleges who created and updated this website as a “SISO SmackDown Starter Kit” to enable each team to participate more efficiently and with a higher level of collaboration. Other CHL members, including from Southwestern Polytechnic Institute, Northwest Indian College support investigation of game engine technology and technical infrastructure.
This team augments SISO SmackDown’s planning with strengths in graphic design, film, web design, creative direction, 3D modeling, user interface design, storyboarding, animation, sound design, script writing, and print media as well as engineering, network, information technology systems analysis, and troubleshooting skills.
The combination of these many groups and skill-sets demonstrates the feasibility and effectiveness of a trans-disciplinary approach to problem-solving.