Columbus State News


CSU Talks Computer Science-Defense Efforts in D.C.

CSU representatives meeting with U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (third from right) this morning are, from left, Heath McCormick, a CSU computer science graduate student; Chuck Turnitsa, director of the GEMS Institute; Wayne Summers, chair of the TSYS  School of Computer Science; Tom Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs; and John Lester, assistant vice president for University Relations.

CSU representatives meeting with U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (third from right) this morning are, from left, Heath McCormick, a CSU computer science graduate student; Chuck Turnitsa, director of the GEMS Institute; Wayne Summers, chair of the TSYS School of Computer Science; Tom Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs; and John Lester, assistant vice president for University Relations.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A team from Columbus State University was in the nation’s capital today to meet with Department of Defense officials and congressional representatives about the work being done by CSU computer scientists to assist with special training at Fort Benning.

Specifically, the meetings are focusing on the Gaming Education Modeling and Simulation, or GEMS, Institute started by CSU in 2010 with a federal grant.

Heath McCormick, a graduate student in CSU’s TSYS School of Computer Science, told officials in Washington today that the system developed through GEMS is a simulation program that teaches young officers “how to think, not what to think.”

Using computers that visually display real-world scenarios faced by the military, in a similar manner as video games, soldiers are better trained to deal with challenging situations. Columbus State is one of four universities nationwide with computer science programs selected by the Army for its soldiers to pursue master’s degrees in gaming, modeling and simulation.

Others from CSU on the trip are Tom Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Wayne Summers, professor and chair of the TSYS School of Computer Science at CSU; Chuck Turnitsa, director of the GEMS Institute at CSU; and John Lester, assistant vice president for University Relations.

The formation of GEMS with a $1.6 million grant in 2010 built on four years of GEMS curriculum development at Columbus State. In 2006, CSU began offering a computer science degree track in game programming to meet a demand not only in the entertainment industry, but also for designers and programmers of educational computer simulations that inform decision-making in the military, government, corporate management, health care, and other areas. That year, a local defense contractor enrolled some of its employees in the program who ultimately developed a simulation program to train soldiers to inspect vehicles, ask for identification and respond to related scenarios.

In 2008, the university received a $100,000 grant to develop a specially designed computer science curriculum to provide local defense contractors with employees skilled in computer modeling, simulation, and gaming. Simulators are used extensively by all military branches in training for combat.

Learning at the controls of a computer-driven trainer instead of a real tank or plane allows for better training at reduced costs, without wear and tear on actual combat vehicles or systems.

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