I Corps Soldiers visit STTC
Staff Sgt. Marcus Pullum, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Brant, I Corps Soldiers recently returned from combat tours in Afghanistan, test the latest in motion tracking for gaming research during a recent tour of the Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Fifteen I Corps Soldiers gave engineers and scientists at the Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith Simulation and Training Technology Center, an element of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, some "boots on the ground" feedback Nov. 18.

The Soldiers returned from combat tours in Afghanistan in July and were on a tour of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command centers and labs.

They paused at the Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith memorial as they entered the facility on the University of Central Florida campus.

Smith, a native of Florida, was a combat engineer Sapper with the 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Once inside the STTC facility, the Soldiers saw Smith's medal and other awards and decorations that the Smith family donated to the STTC.

After a brief overview by Col. Craig Langhauser, STTC commander, the Soldiers experienced the latest in interactive gaming research efforts underway at the center.

The Blended Simulation Branch is researching Nintendo Wii, as well as immersive, virtual worlds for learning and training applications.

These technologies allow multiple users in different locations to experience three-dimensional interactions simultaneously using digital representations called avatars. Distance learning, collaboration, cultural training and outreach via multiple-person, real-time interaction are benefits of this technology.

"Ultimately this effort will provide collaborative and immersive training for users," said Tami Griffith, science and technology manager. "Also, we are looking at using intelligent tutors to pace learning based on subtle indicators, such as furrowed brows depicting confusion or wandering eye suggesting boredom."

The STTC's mission is to conduct research and development to enhance Warfighter mission effectiveness.

To ensure they provide Soldiers with the best simulation technology to support their mission, STTC engineers sat down with the Soldiers before their departure.

The Soldiers weren't shy to discuss what works and what doesn't. The majority agreed that the training systems and devices are helpful; however, many noted they need better training on how to use them.

"Better cultural training would've been very helpful prior to deploying," said 1st Lt. Jason Vanderhayden, 3rd Bn, 2nd Inf. Div., Fort Lewis, Wash.

When it came to language training Sgt. 1st Class Brant noted, "We were issued smart cards and a booklet, but it didn't help us learn the pronunciation."

According to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Dickson, 3rd Bn, 2nd Inf. Div., the Advanced Gunnery Training System was an asset for training his platoon.

"The mobile gun trainer did an awesome job augmenting the training," Dickson said.

"Feedback from units returning from theater helps us identify training technology gaps, evaluate the usability of our current training concepts, and research new solutions for training and mission rehearsal," Langhauser said.

Following their visit to the STTC, the Soldiers were scheduled to tour the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, also in Orlando, and the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, located at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., before returning home.

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Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16