In Suffolk, governor calls for innovation

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gov. Bob McDonnell delivers the keynote address at a modeling and simulation conference in North Suffolk Wednesday, calling on the industry to help grow the economy through the discovery of new technologies.

Gov. Bob McDonnell rallied the modeling and simulation community to help offset future job losses from potential automatic federal budget cuts, in a conference keynote address in North Suffolk Wednesday.

“There is no reason that Virginia should not be the modeling and simulation capital of America,” McDonnell told the Modeling and Simulation Multi-Con audience at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC).

Unless Congress agrees to a deficit-reduction plan during the lame-duck session, the federal spending cuts will reduce defense budgets by $500 more in 2013-2021 than the minimum $487 billion already assured.

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McDonnell said that the “mod-sim” industry can provide diversity to help the state’s defense-heavy economy withstand so-called sequestration.

“I think we all agree that there is unlimited potential and a vast amount of work to be done … to grow the Virginia modeling and simulation industry so it can be a widely accepted decision-making tool for managers,” he said.

With its reliance on the military as an economic driver, he said, Virginia would be disproportionately affected by the looming cuts, adding, “We have to find other opportunities in these other industries.”

Established in 1997, VMASC bills itself as a world leader for computer modeling, simulation and visualization research.

Offering modeling and simulation degrees for Old Dominion University students, part of its stated mission is to “conduct collaborative … research and development (and) provide expertise to government agencies and industry.”

McDonnell marveled at the industry’s evolution. “I remember not so long ago when you talked about modeling and simulation and that meant a person in tight clothes walking down a runway,” he joked.

When in 1976 he first reported for active duty in the U.S. Army, there was “very little in the way of modeling and simulation at that time. There was very little technology being deployed.

“The work that has been done in the last 10 to 15 years in this discipline has really been spectacular.”

The three-day conference, ending Thursday, also featured a business meeting of the National Modeling & Simulation Coalition, a new national organization.

“The vision for the coalition is to promote and leverage modeling and simulation, not only for the interests of national security, but also to improve the human condition,” McDonnell said.

While touting his jobs creation record, McDonnell said he has established a task force to look at new ways of growing the state’s economy, to offset Congressional efforts — either more carefully planned or via sequestration — to reduce the $16 trillion federal deficit.

“As in most of the challenges America faces, there is always a silver lining,” he said. “Out of these challenges, I would say there are multiple opportunities, and I couldn’t think of a better group … (to) work together to help find those opportunities.

“Let us know what those policies are that can unshackle you … so that we can find those new industries.”