UCF graduate students took three of the five top honors at the I/ITSEC scholarship competition last week and another group took top honors in the organization’s game competition.

I/ITSEC  (Interservice/ Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference) is the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training conference, which is held in Orlando each year because of the important role the city plays in this field. The Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines simulation operations are based in Research Park adjacent to UCF. UCF has ongoing partnership and research with most of the agencies.

During the conference, experts from around the world gather to present their latest research, exchange ideas, showcase the latest innovation, provide resources to STEM teachers to encourage the next generation of engineers, and check out the up-and-coming talent in the field. As part of the conference, the organization offers several $10,000 scholarships to graduate students who demonstrate talent and potential.

This year, Salem Daher and Thomas Keller, doctoral candidates in UCF’s modeling and simulation program, and Bradford Schroeder, a doctoral candidate in psychology, received $10,000 each. Two other winners were from Kings College in London and Virginia Tech.

“These wins are a recognition by the IITSEC community of the quality of UCF’s students and modeling and simulation programs,” said Michael Macedonia, assistant vice president for UCF’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies. “They also demonstrate the value of the bond UCF has with all the stakeholders in IITSEC – the tech industry, military services, educators and Orlando.”

Also at the convention, a group of undergraduate students from the School of Visual Arts & Design took top honors in the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge for its Tootin’ Pooches computer game that places Electromyography (EMG) sensors on players to control game play. As the players move their muscles, the pooches toot and destroy alien invaders on the screen.

While players laugh, they also strengthen muscles that would be needed to operate a type of prosthetic the UCF-based nonprofit Limbitless Solutions creates. The game is part of an ongoing collaboration facilitated by SVAD assistant professors Matt Dombrowski, Ryan Buyssens and Peter Smith with Limbitless Solutions to create gamified training for children who are awaiting 3-D printed prosthetics so they are ready to use the devices.