Simulation: Body of Knowledge

Simulation: Body of Knowledge

Istvan Molnar (Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-774-4.ch001


This chapter attempts to define the knowledge body of simulation and describes the underlying principles of simulation education. It argues that any programs in Modelling and Simulation should recognize the multi- and interdisciplinary character of the field and realize the program in wide co-operation. The chapter starts with the clarification of the major objectives and principles of the Modelling and Simulation Program and the related degrees, based on a broad business and real world perspective. After reviewing students’ background, especially communication, interpersonal, team, analytical and critical thinking skills, furthermore some of the additional skills facilitating entering a career, the employer’s view and possible career paths are examined. Finally, the core knowledge body, the curriculum design and program related issues are discussed. The author hopes to contribute to the recent discussions about modelling and simulation education and the profession.
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Since the 70s, simulation education has been in the focus of attention. The growing acceptance of modelling and simulation (M&S) across different scientific disciplines and different major application domains (e.g., military, industry, services) increased the demand for well-qualified specialists. The place and recognition of modelling and simulation, however, is not very well recognized by academics; M&S as scientific disciplines are “homeless”. This reflects and underlines the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of M&S and at the same time causes special problems in educational program and curriculum development.

Recognizing controversial developments and the fact that actions are necessary, different stakeholders of the international simulation community started to attack the problems. As part of the actions, Rogers (1997) and Sargent (2000) aimed to define M&S as a discipline, describing the characteristics of the profession, while Oren (2002) aimed at establishing its code of professional ethics. As a consequence of these efforts, questions were raised by Nance (2000) and Crosbie (2000) about the necessity, characteristics and content of an internationally acceptable educational program of simulation for different levels of education (undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate). The first steps triggered a new wave of discussions by Szczerbicka (2000), Adelsberger (2000), Altiok (2001), Banks (2001), Nance and Balci (2001), followed by Harmon (2002) and Fishwick (2002) around the 50th anniversary of the Society for Computer Simulation and these discussions are not finished yet (e.g., Birta (2003a), Paul et al. (2003), and others). At the turn of the century, 50 years after the professional field was established, special attention was devoted to the subject of the simulation profession and the professional “simulationist”, as well. Definition of the profession, along with possible programs and curricula were published, as were attempts to define the knowledge body of simulation discussed (e.g., Birta, 2003b and Oren 2008).

The growth of simulation applications in industry, government and especially in the military in the US, led to a growing demand for simulation professionals in the 90-ies. Academic programs have been introduced and standardization efforts undertaken; moreover, new organizations have been established to maintain different aspects of simulation. Europe has been following these trends with a slight delay. The Bologna Process is a European reform process aimed at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010. It is a process, driven by the 46 participating countries in cooperation with a number of international organizations; it is not based on an intergovernmental treaty. “By 2010 higher education systems in European countries should be organized in such a way that:

  • it is easy to move from one country to the other (within the European Higher Education Area) – for the purpose of further study or employment;

  • the attractiveness of European higher education is increased, so many people from non-European countries also come to study and/or work in Europe;

  • the European Higher Education Area provides Europe with a broad, high quality and advanced knowledge base, and ensures the further development of Europe as a stable, peaceful and tolerant community.” (Bologna Process, 2008)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Career Path: is a series of consecutive progressive achievements in professional life over an entire lifespan.

Knowledge: the range of a person’s information or understanding, or the body of truth, information, and principles acquired.

Bologna Process: is a European reform process aiming to establish a European Higher Education Area by 2010. The process is driven by 46 participating countries and not based on an intergovernmental treaty.

Model Curriculum or Curriculum Model: is an organized plan, a set of standards, defined learning outcomes, which describe systematically the curriculum.

Skill: is a learned ability to do something in a competent way.

Body of Knowledge (BoK): the sum of all knowledge elements of a particular professional field, defined usually by a professional organization.

Education: refers to experiences in which students can learn, including teaching, training and instruction. Students learn knowledge, information and skills (incl. thinking skills) during the course of life. Learning process can include a teacher, a person who teaches.

Curriculum: a set of courses offered by an educational institution. It means two things: on one hand, the curriculum defines a range of courses from which students choose, on the other hand the curriculum is understood as a specific learning program, which describes the teaching, learning, and assessment materials of a defined knowledge body available for a given course.

Simulation Profession: it is a vocation based on specialised education or training in modeling and simulation, involves the application of systematic knowledge and proficiency of the modeling and simulation subject, field, or science to receive compensation. Modeling and simulation erose recently as a profession.

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