News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

March 15, 2010 — Vol. 26 No. 11

Rameshsharma Ramloll a finalist in Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge

Rameshsharma Ramloll demonstrates the Play2Train project.

The U.S. Army Simulation and Training Technology Center named the Idaho State University “Play2Train” Second Life application produced by Rameshsharma Ramloll as a finalist for the inaugural Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge.

Ramloll is a research assistant professor for the Idaho State University Institute of Rural Health. The ISU program was one of nine finalists in the Government/Government Contractor category and is among the top three in the “skill building” category for the Government/Government Contractor stream. There were nine other finalists in the Non-Government category. A complete listing of finalists follows.

“Play2Train” is a 3D virtual place where geographically separated learners, subject-matter experts and content builders meet as avatars to create collaboratively immersive learning experiences for the health care, emergency preparedness and educational services industry. The program's objective is to enhance the knowledge and skills of health care professionals to meet the public health preparedness and emergency response demands resulting from acts of bioterrorism and other incidents. More information on Play2Train is available at http://www.play2train.org.

The Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge was launched in August 2009 to reach a global development community to explore innovative and interactive training and analysis solutions in virtual worlds. The goal was to expose possibilities for using virtual worlds that may have not been considered by the U.S. Government. Evaluators across the United States government including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Transportation and Health and Human Services were instrumental in determining the finalists.

“My co-workers and I are very honored that we have received this award,” Ramloll said. “Our success in this endeavor shows that in spite of obstacles, we can sometimes transcend them and achieve notable things.”

Submissions were received from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada and made use of a variety of virtual worlds: such as Second Life™, ActiveWorlds and Hyper-Reality. Entries were then divided into four categories: Collaboration, Skill Building, Instruction and Visualization.

"It was clear that there were groups of developers who were pushing the envelope of training and analysis capabilities within virtual worlds,” said Tami Griffith, the creator of the challenge. “Our hope was that the Federal Virtual World Challenge would expose those ‘pockets of excellence’ and provide an opportunity to build relationships between these innovators and the federal government.”

Finalists are invited to demonstrate their entries and attend the award ceremony taking place on the final day of the Defense Users’ GameTech Conference in Orlando March 29-31. Non-Government winners will receive travel accommodations to the conference. This group is also eligible to receive a monetary award in the amounts of $1,000, $500 or $250 for first through third place. Additionally, the director of the Simulation & Training Technology Center will have the option of awarding a $25,000 grand prize if a submission provides a significant advancement and would likely lead to additional future government investment.

Finally, the finalists are invited to provide a poster session at the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds event in Washington, D.C., May 13-14.

The Non-Government category finalists, in alphabetical order of entry are:

The Government/Government Contractor category finalists are: