National Training and Simulation Association Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in Modeling

December 22, 2015

By Michelle Milliner, ARL Public Affairs

Dr. Robert A. Sottilare, U.S. Army Research Laboratory-Human Research and Engineering Directorate, was recognized for his lifetime of contribution to the fields of modeling and simulation technology, and training research.

For over 30 years, Sottilare has been both a leader of modeling and simulation organizations and a contributor to simulator design and training methods. Sottilare's work in reconfigurable simulators, distributed simulation experimentation, demonstrations, standards and adaptive training has provided major contributions to the growth and evolution of modeling, simulation, and training.

Along with Bill Waite, Sottilare received the Governor's Award —NTSA's highest award — as the outstanding contributor among six individual and group finalists in the categories of lifetime achievement, acquisition, cross-function, and training who were also recognized this year.

This is the second time Sottilare has been recognized for lifetime achievement in modeling and simulation. He was also the inaugural recipient of the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command's Modeling and Simulation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

As a leader, Sottilare was responsible for the formation and development of what is now the ARL-HRED Advanced Training and Simulation Division, formerly the Simulation and Training Technology Center, and served as its first director. He was able to take a disorganized research cell at U.S. Army Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM) and develop it into a premier modeling and simulation laboratory.

His arrangements with the University of Central Florida and the state of Florida at the initiation of the Army's Simulation and Training Technology Center was a model for collaboration followed by the three partnership buildings.

Sottilare was an active leader and contributor to the development of distributed simulation standards. He served on the Distributed Interactive Simulation Executive Steering Committee and chaired the Field Demonstration Working Group which led the development of interaction standards for live training and testing standards. Sottilare chaired the Training Technology Technical Panel of The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP), a five nation research exchange organization.

During his tenure as chair, he shepherded through a project arrangement among the five member nations to examine tools and methods for individual, small unit and collective training across Live, Virtual, and Constructive simulations. He is also co-chair of a NATO research task group the potential applicability across NATO of Intelligent Tutoring Systems.

Sottilare's technical career began as a project engineer for the Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division. He led a U.S. Navy project team in the design and development of the first reconfigurable simulators which resulted in lower cost training systems which were able to serve larger numbers of operational platforms.

The most prominent of these simulator was the Device 14A12 Multi-Ship ASW Trainer which provided generic hardware and reconfigurable software to represent the combat information center, fire control, and sonar suites for 16 classes of U.S. Navy surface ships. Beginning with the Navy and later with STRICOM and STTC, Dr. Sottilare has been a key leader in nearly every major distributed simulation experiment and demonstration since the early 1990s.

He was the technical lead for DIS demonstrations at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference in 1992 and 1999. He was the Army's technical lead for the Synthetic Theater of War-Europe, the first LVC DIS exercise on two continents.

He repeated this success again during Prairie Warrior (network link to Asia). The lessons learned derived from these events formed the basis for future distributed training events and influenced the design/scope of the Army's $500 million Advanced Distributed Simulation Technology research program for the next six years. Later, Sottilare led an examination under the auspices of TTCP of the potential use of commercial game platforms as distributed virtual environments.

Sottilare's most recent efforts have applied artificial intelligence technology to training. His research in adaptive instruction, the tailoring of instruction to the learning needs of individual and teams, has resulted in the development of the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring, or GIFT. GIFT is an open architecture used to reduce the time/skill needed to author Intelligent Tutoring systems, enhance instructional guidance, develop self-regulated learning habits, and evaluate the effectiveness of adaptive instructional methods. GIFT is currently used by nearly 600 government, industry, and academic users in over 40 countries. He is the developer of the learning effect model for individuals and teams which is the basis for interaction between the learner and the instructional model and domain model in GIFT. Dr. Sottilare is also the lead editor for the Design Recommendations for ITSs book series which has produced volumes on learner modeling, instructional management, and authoring. Since 2010, Dr. Sottilare has nearly 500 citations for his work in adaptive instruction for training and education.

Sottilare has been a leader of the community from both a technical and organizational perspective. His accomplishments are significant in modeling and simulation technology development and training research over the last 30 years. His contributions to simulator design, distributed simulation and its standards, international collaboration, and adaptive training led to his selection for the NTSA's Life Time Achievement Award.


Last Update / Reviewed: December 22, 2015