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Simulation takes flight in Tulsa

TU’s computer simulation and gaming degree is strategic — offered in an area of the country where simulation is a thriving industry with enormous potential. Tulsa is home to successful companies such as FlightSafety International where several TU graduates have launched exciting careers in simulation.

Director of Engineering Nidal Sammur (BS ’84, MS ’86) and Senior Staff Engineer Billy Baker (BS ’94, MS ’96) actively support STEM activities in the Tulsa area and interact with TU students at recruiting events. Though headquartered in New York, FlightSafety’s primary engineering and manufacturing facility is in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow where Sammur, who also holds a PhD in electrical and computer engineering, and Baker oversee the engineering design, production and testing of flight simulation equipment.

Lateral view of cockpit in flight simulator

FlightSafety uses the simulators to provide training at more than 50 domestic and international locations to pilots from more than 167 countries who fly a wide variety of business, commercial and military aircraft. The simulators also are used by commercial airlines and government agencies who train their own pilots.

“FlightSafety’s simulators replicate the exact flying characteristics of the aircraft they represent and are qualified to the highest standards by aviation authorities around the world,” Sammur said. “We provide a very real, high-fidelity experience that enables pilots to become fully qualified to fly a particular aircraft type, following completion of their simulator training.”

With the establishment of TU’s new computer simulation and gaming degree, Baker said the program provides a new opportunity for graduates interested in a career at FlightSafety.

“There will always be pilots everywhere who need training,” he said. “There are many elements of simulation that cross over to other disciplines including artificial intelligence, computer graphics and low-latency networking. This type of degree opens many doors in the industry.”

Computer simulation and gaming majors stand to benefit from this growing field by acquiring a skillset in high demand.

“When you find a job candidate with a bachelor’s degree who’s been exposed to this kind of work, it can only help,” Sammur said.

Simulators are used to develop weather models, ship models, physics models and even improve the engineering of race cars. With the help of simulation technology, engineers and scientists can bring their prototypes to life. According to Sammur, simulation is used in nearly every sector of STEM and is a valuable course of study. “For those who complete a degree in this area, the sky is the limit.”