Governor tours Suffolk research center

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe experienced cutting-edge technology on Wednesday at an Old Dominion University research center in Suffolk.

ODU’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center held a tour for the governor on Wednesday at the facility off College Drive in Harbor View. The tour was part of the annual “Cabinet on the Road” this Wednesday and Thursday, with the governor and his cabinet secretaries visiting points of interest across Hampton Roads.

VMASC develops modeling and simulation technology for practical applications that represent complex data in well-defined simulations. Faculty presented McAuliffe with cyber security, augmented reality and simulation applications they are developing at the center, with academic and commercial benefits.

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“They are literally leading the charge,” McAuliffe said.

Senior project scientist Peter Foytik introduced Cyber Risk Scoring Mitigation, an application that evaluates computer networks for security vulnerabilities. CRSM utilizes national vulnerability databases to measure the likelihood of cyber-attacks, and presents simple reports of the network’s aggregate risk score.

“It also provides individual risk of every single node scanned on the network,” Foytik said.

The governor was equipped with an augmented reality headset to experience immersive historical sites based on archaeological findings. The same technology can be used by manufacturers and commercial shipping companies, allowing them to go in every compartment of a complete, virtual ship.

“You experience things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience,” VMASC executive director John Sokolowski said.

Faculty demonstrated cloud-based simulation software designed to predict optimal resource applications. An example was a hospital emergency room scenario in triage, where optimal care allocation is crucial.

Foytik said these simulations are useful for engineers, political scientists and other industry backgrounds.

“You have a lot of different backgrounds that can benefit from modeling simulation,” he said.

Chief scientist Barry Ezell said the work at VMASC has diversified in recent years to include medicine, health care and homeland security applications for local organizations. He said the tour was organized to show McAuliffe the resources the center offers.

“We like to do meaningful work that culminates in people making better decisions,” he said.

McAuliffe was impressed by the practical applications of VMASC’s research and development, and the interest the work can spark in Virginia students towards science, technology, engineering and math-related fields. He said students need to seek these careers at younger ages, as opposed to waiting until their senior years of college.

“I would love to have every sixth-grader come in here and try these goggles,” he said in reference to the augmented reality headset.

He said there are 36,000 “cyber jobs” currently open in Virginia with an average pay of $78,000 per year, and he wants Virginia’s next generation to take an interest in those fields and assume those positions. He praised ODU for “stepping in leadership” and pursuing research into these fields.

Sokolowski said VMASC will continue researching new industry solutions, and focus on raising awareness of these developments for the benefit of local governments as well.

“We’re here for them to take advantage of that,” he said.

McAuliffe and his cabinet will be hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber at the Chesapeake Conference Center on Thursday. The governor will address his priorities for the next nine months while each cabinet member hosts industry leaders from Hampton Roads businesses.