MODSIM World 2019 Conference Recap

MODSIM World 2019 Conference Recap

Sunny Norfolk, VA was the destination for the 2019 MODSIM World Conference, our 12th year! It brought together hundreds of simulation professionals and researchers from government, industry and academia to learn, engage, and collaborate on the latest findings, research, and innovation in modeling and simulation. The conference theme for 2019 was “Enabling Digital Transformation with M&S”.

This year’s conference had an outstanding program from plenary sessions to technical tracks covering Analytics and Decision-Making, Cross Reality, Science and Engineering, and Training and Education.

Monday 22 April

Keynote speakers included Representative Bobby Scott, VA 3rd district, with a congressional address and Mr. Charles Southall, Vice President of Engineering at Newport News Shipbuilding, with an industry perspective.  Charles Southall’s presentation, “Digital Transformation Journey of America’s Largest Shipbuilder”, set the stage for follow-on panels and discussions firmly anchoring the conference’s theme.

Our Panel of Senior Military Leaders discussed the topic “Training and Readiness in the Digital Age - How is the Digital Transformation Affecting the Way Modern Military Trains”.  Distinguished panel members included:

  • CAPT Timothy M. Hill, USN, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD)
  • COL Lawrence Mullany, USA, Environment Operations Division Chief, Joint Staff J7 Deputy Directorate for Joint Training
  • Col Robert Epstein, USAF, Commander, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS)

The first special event, the Simulation Century – on its 7th year and a staple of the conference, was moderated by Mr. Richard Boyd. This year’s topic was “The Big Leap from Big Data to Immersive Intelligence”.

The second special event was a panel with the topic “A pair of aces – Your Data in a Big Data Society”.  This event was moderated by Mr. Jay Gendron, Data Scientist, USAA and Dr. Eric Weisel, Executive Director, VMASC.

We closed the first day with our onsite networking event sponsored by the VMASC Industry Association.

Tuesday April 23rd

The second day was kicked off by our Government Keynote speaker Dr. Sae Schatz, Director of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, a research and development program under the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training.  Dr. Schatz’s presentation “Modernizing Learning” was followed by our International Perspective event – “The Story of Finland’s Digital Transformation” presented by Finland’s Executive Director for Digital Transformation of Finnish Industries, Mr. Pekka Sivonen.

The conference’s third special event, the Defense and Homeland Security Panel, offered a diversity of perspectives on “The Disruption of Conventions in Defense and Homeland Security by Modeling and Simulation”. 

Paper sessions I and II across all four tracks took place on Tuesday afternoon followed by our off-site networking event at the Blue Moon restaurant in Norfolk’s Waterside District sponsored by Unreal Engine.

Wednesday 24 April

The day opened with remarks from Mr. Matt Spruill, Chairman, Virginia Modeling and Simulation Partnership (VMSP).

The conference’s fourth special event, the Senior Leader Panel – “Enablers for Digital Transformation” was moderated by RADM (ret) James Robb.  The panelists discussed our ability to successfully execute an organization’s digital transformation.  Senior Leaders from Government and Industry shared their challenges, opportunities, and principles related to embracing modeling and simulation as an enabler for an organization’s digital transformation.  Senior Leaders in the panel included:

  • Mr. Bob Armstrong, Executive Director, SCSIL School of Health Professions: Research, Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)
  • Dr. Roger Barga, General Manager and Director of Development, Amazon Web Services
  • Dr. Marty Irvine, Technical Operations Manager, Combat Direction Systems Activity - Dam Neck
  • Dr. James Moreland, OUSD A&S Director, Maritime Interdiction
  • Mr. Sanjay Sardar, Vice President of Operations, Solutions and Technology Group,


  • Mr. Pekka Sivonen, Executive Director, Digital Transformation of Finnish Industries Ecosystems, Business Finland

    The fifth special event, the MODSIM STEM event provided the conference a unique opportunity to contribute directly to the school experience of the youth who are just beginning to formulate their dreams for the future. During the MODSIM STEM event, approximately 80 area high school students got to see firsthand the world of M&S and related technologies by rotating through hands-on demonstrations provided in the exhibit hall.

    Paper sessions III and IV across all four conference tracks took place on Wednesday followed by the conference’s sixth and final special event, “Engaging the Future of Modeling and Simulation”. The event, consisting of best papers and presentations from the ODU M&S Student Capstone Conference, was devoted exclusively to research findings presented by undergraduate and graduate students and facilitated the exchange of current, research-based information pertaining to modeling and simulation.

    The day and conference ended with our closing networking event sponsored by VMASC and ODU’s MSVE program.

    Special thanks go to the conference’s two sponsoring organizations for all the support they provided to make this conference possible and successful:

  • The Virginia Modeling and Simulation Partnership (VMSP); and
  • The National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA)

MODSIM World 2019 Conference at a glance:

Conference attendees


  • Government


  • Industry


STEM Participants


Total Participants


Number of Exhibitors


Number of Sponsors


International Participants


Countries Represented