VMASC gets $2.7M federal grant

Published 9:53 pm Monday, October 26, 2009

The Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center will receive $2.7 million in federal funding to implement a multi-agency, statewide modeling and simulation exercise to study the effects and possible responses to security threats that could be faced by the commonwealth of Virginia.

The full-scale exercise will involve a coordinated effort between federal, state and local officials, according to Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-4th), who made the announcement Monday afternoon.

“We live in an age where security threats are not just limited to our naval bases and military facilities, but extend to shopping malls and athletic fields, as well,” he said in his statement.

“It is imperative that the United States be on the cutting edge in using technology to train and prepare for potential attacks on numerous levels. Modeling and simulation is a unique technology that provides a level of training and preparation that has not been available to us previously. This full-scale exercise will help employ top-of-the-line plans to protect infrastructure and public safety in Virginia.”

Funding for the exercise was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act conference report.

VMASC, which is located on Old Dominion University’s North Suffolk Campus, is often put to use by military and other government agencies to simulate and model complex scenarios that would be too dangerous, expensive or elaborate to test completely in real life.

The exercise will be designed to help improve the coordination of local, state and federal officials and agencies in the event of a catastrophic man-made or natural event.

Hampton Roads has been a national leader in virtual training in a variety of industries, including defense, transportation and the environment. The industry has brought the Hampton Roads area 4,500 jobs with average salaries of $83,000 and an economic output of $365 million, according to Forbes.

Forbes is the founder and chairman of the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, which he established in 2005. The caucus gives congressmen a venue to discuss issues pertaining to the modeling and simulation field.

Historically the caucus has been focused on modeling and simulation as it relates to the defense industry, but the focus recently has broadened to include applications in other fields.

“While we are seeing significant advances in the use of modeling and simulation, it is still largely an untapped resource,” Forbes stated. “By continuing to make significant investments like this one, we will not only raise awareness of Virginia as a leader in this vital industry, but will help provide a significant economic boost to the Hampton Roads region.”