UCF Pegasus Professor Charlie Hughes has been selected for the National Center for Simulation Hall of Fame.
The NCS selects individuals who have made significant contributions to the world of simulation and training. Six UCF affiliated-individuals are already in the hall of fame. That’s no surprise given UCF’s role in the field. The university’s Institute for Simulation and Training (IST) is in the heart of Florida’s High-Tech Corridor, which boasts one of the highest concentrations of simulation and training-related activities in the nation.
Hughes is well known in this field for his inventions and for preparing students to be critical thinkers ready to take on the realities of the ever-changing industry. That’s one reason he was recently named interim director of the Modeling and Simulation degree program within the School of Modeling, Simulation and Training (SMST). The computer science professor has taught, published, advised students and invented for more than 50 years within the field.
Hughes has been recognized with teaching awards seven times between 1995 and 2015. He has more than 80 grants and contracts, three patents, and nearly 250 publications. There is no doubt that students across the globe have benefitted from his wisdom and insight within the industry, according to his colleagues.
“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Dr. Charlie Hughes,” says Wes Naylor, interim director of the School of Modeling, Simulation and Training. “Charlie has been a pioneer in this are of study and his work has moved both the practice and potential of virtual learning forward in a manner that will be appreciated for decades to come.”
Hughes helped launch IST in 1982 and he is as passionate about the field today as he was then.
“Being involved in modeling and simulation has been a passion and a pleasure,” Hughes says. “As with my core discipline of computer science, [modeling and simulation] is constantly advancing, and it is that evolutionary aspect that has kept me young at heart.”
Much of his research is implemented into virtual learning environments, such as the TLE TeachLivE project, a valuable resource in the ever-changing landscape of educational settings. This simulation experience grants future educators the opportunity to practice teaching students in a simulated classroom setting.
He is also founder and co-director of the Synthetic Reality Lab (SREAL), which involves the use of cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality technologies for simulation and training experiences.
A large component of Hughes’ journey involves mentorship of students. His fervor for seeing students both perform well in academic setting and in industry has never dwindled throughout his years as an educator.
From high schoolers and undergraduate students to doctoral candidates, Hughes positions his students to pursue the accumulation of knowledge ceaselessly.
While chasing technological insight drives Hughes, it is his students that keep him inspired.
“I want to thank all those whose shoulders I have ridden on and all those who have honored me as my students over these many years,” says Hughes, “I especially want to thank my TeachLivE collaborators whose creativity and desire to do both well and good have motivated me for the last decade and a half.”
Throughout his career, Hughes also benefited from a strong support at home.
“I wish to thank my tolerant family members who put up with my habits of programming and proving theorems until 4:00 a.m.,” Hughes says.
Normally, Hughes would be honored at an induction ceremony at the NCS Hall of Fame’s permanent installation within the Orange County Convention Center, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festivities have been delayed until 2021.
Story by Simone Rousseau, UCF Today