The Modeling and Simulation PhD is an interdisciplinary degree primarily intended for students with an academic or work background in mathematics, sciences, engineering, or computer science who wish to pursue a career in academia, government, defense, entertainment, technology, service or manufacturing.
Simulation is the quintessential utility tool. In one way or another, just about every engineering or scientific field uses simulation as an exploration, modeling, or analysis technique. Simulation is not limited to engineering or science. Simulation is used in training, management, and concept exploration and involves constructing human-centered, equipment-centered, and/or stand-alone computer-based models of existing as well as conceptual systems or processes. The purpose of simulation is to evaluate the behavior of the human, organization, equipment, and/or systems under study through the evaluation of output from the corresponding simulation construct. Because of the scale and complexity of modeling and simulation, practitioners have developed both generalized and specialized skills.
Input from industry and government M&S users and developers has been instrumental in identifying the key competencies for M&S professionals and has been critical to the development of this curriculum. The curriculum is designed to provide a broad overall perspective of the developing simulation industry and an awareness of the economic considerations. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have the diverse training necessary to enable them to work in varied capacities in government agencies, or in the defense, service, entertainment, and manufacturing industries.
Students in the Modeling and Simulation graduate program have often focused their study and research efforts in one or more of the following research areas:
The Behavioral Cybersecurity in M&S research area has attracted those who wish to gain expertise in the latent cognitive aspects of security for computer systems, servers, mobile devices, networks, software, and network-enabled devices. Typical problem areas for behavioral aspects of cybersecurity include insider threats, hacker motivations, user training and education, digital ethics, cyber law and policy, senior leader education, and cyber workforce development and education. Typical courses include Behavioral Aspects of Cybersecurity, Cyber Operations Lab, Emerging Cyber Issues, Digital Ethics, Human Cognition and Learning, Cyber Crime and Criminal Justice, and Data Mining Methodology I.
The Human Systems in M&S research area has attracted those who wish to gain expertise in the content and techniques of human behavior in simulation systems, including human factors, human-computer interaction, virtual worlds, statistical and quantitative procedures, experimental design, computer techniques, and other research methodologies. Typical problem areas for R&D include human-in-the-loop simulation; team performance under stress; and use of visual, audio, haptic, and other sensory input/output modalities to coordinate human-machine activities. Typical courses include Human Factors, Training Systems Engineering, Human Computer Interaction, Intelligent Simulation, and Distributed Learning.
Computer Visualization in M&S is a research area that attracts those who wish to gain expertise in technical aspects of computer graphic systems, virtual environments, and human-centered simulation systems applying the state-of-the-art in computer graphics and other human-interface technologies. Typical courses include Human Computer Interaction, Computer Graphics Systems, Computer Vision, Machine Perception, Human-Virtual Environment Interaction, and Sensation and Perception. Students in this research area typically have an interest in the area of Emerging Media, which focuses on the development of new forms of interactive media and the creation of story-driven content for them such as interactive works of art, electronic games, virtual reality, the Internet, portable devices and mobile applications, wearable computers, etc.
Simulation Modeling and Analysis
The Simulation Modeling and Analysis research area attracts those who desire to gain expertise in using simulation as a optimization tool for effective design, planning, analysis, and decision-making. The emphasis of this area is on problem definition, model formulation, design of simulation experiments, and model-based analysis. This area attracts those who seek to develop skills in the application of advanced quantitative methods to modeling and simulation. Building on backgrounds in operations research, mathematics or statistics, they should gain experience in modeling and simulation through the application of optimization, mathematical and statistical theory to build multidisciplinary simulation models and conducting rigorous simulation experimentation. A graduate will be prepared to work with corporate and government decision-makers as they model and evaluate the impacts of proposed policies and system designs. Typical courses include Engineering Statistics, Statistical Aspects of Digital Simulation, and Mathematical Modeling, Discrete Systems Simulation, Object-Oriented Simulation, Experimental Design, and Quantitative Aspects of Modeling and Simulation.
Simulation in Healthcare
Simulation in Healthcare is a fast growing new area in M&S. Issues related to bringing down the cost of healthcare and reducing costly medical errors are generating many new opportunities related to systems analysis, communication between healthcare providers and patients, and simulation-based training, to name a few. Currently a disproportionate amount of the US economy goes to healthcare, at least twice as much as the average of the 25 richest nations, and health outcomes in the US place the country near the bottom of this group of countries. M&S can contribute significantly towards improving this situation. Typical courses include Discrete Systems Simulation, Experimental Design, and Object-Oriented Simulation, Engineering Statistics, Human Computer Interaction.
Interactive Simulation and Intelligent Systems
Interactive Simulation and Intelligent Systems research attracts those who wish to pursue or are currently pursuing careers in the training simulation/simulator industries. Graduates specializing in this research area typically are interested in creating designs for simulators and simulator-based training systems and to apply expert systems and other intelligent systems in a simulation setting. Typical courses include Training Systems Engineering, Simulation of Real-Time Processes, and Intelligent Simulation.
The research area of Simulation Infrastructure attracts those who wish to gain an in-depth understanding of the basic components of simulation systems and their patterns of configuration and communication, including hardware and software issues. They will gain experience in the development of distributed simulation and training environments. Graduates should be able to implement such systems or manage a team capable of developing such systems. Typical courses include Performance Models of Computers and Networks, Simulation Design and Analysis, High Performance Computer Architecture, and Analysis of Computer and Communication Systems. Simulation Management: Simulation Management research area attracts those who wish to gain expertise in the management of projects related to modeling, simulation, and training (MS&T). Graduates who focus in this area of study should be prepared to manage such projects for military agencies or MS&T companies. Typical courses include Environment of Technical Organizations, Modeling and Simulation of Real-Time Processes, Management Information Systems, and Project Engineering.
Simulation Management research area attracts those who wish to gain expertise in the management of projects related to modeling, simulation, and training (MS&T). Graduates who focus in this area of study should be prepared to manage such projects for military agencies or MS&T companies. Typical courses include Environment of Technical Organizations, Modeling and Simulation of Real-Time Processes, Management Information Systems, and Project Engineering.
Required Courses: 15 Credit Hours
Restricted Elective: 3 Credit Hours
Students must select an elective course from the Modeling and Simulation Graduate Program. Appropriate courses include those that follow. Others may be added over time with Program Director approval.
Unrestricted Electives: 39 Credit Hours
All M&S PhD degree program students must take at least 39 credit hours of unrestrictive elective courses that reflect at least two disciplines that support the student’s area of graduate study.
A student must carefully select a set of courses in order to design an appropriate plan of coursework. The purpose of the courses is to ensure that students have depth in their research area as well as have breadth in the interdisciplinary area of modeling and simulation. The set of courses should also support a student’s area of graduate study and to meet the specific educational needs, goals and objectives of that student.
Unrestricted electives must consist of at least 9 credit hours of formal courses, excluding independent study. The remaining credits may consist of additional coursework, directed research, independent study, and additional dissertation as advised appropriately by faculty adviser and/or program director.
Modeling and Simulation PhD Elective Courses
In addition to successfully completing the core courses for the M&S PhD program, students are required to carefully select electives with the guidance of a Program Director or faculty adviser. Elective choices should be made with the intent to strengthen a research interest and/or area of focus in order to meet the individual student’s educational goals and objectives.
Listed below are suggested courses in various areas of focus or specialization. These course groupings are mere guides, are not exhaustive and are only meant to assist with advising and course selection in order to meet the individual student’s educational goals and objectives. They are not intended to restrict elective choices among focus areas as we strongly encourage Modeling and Simulation students to maintain an interdisciplinary approach to their graduate studies.
If a student identifies another UCF course which may be of value to his/her M&S research area, but is not already identified in a list below, that student may request approval from the Graduate Program Director for the course to be used as an elective in the Graduate Plan of Study. All such requests must be made in advance of enrolling in the course.
Those electives categorized as “General” and “Fundamentals of Modeling and Simulation” would be appropriate for all students regardless of interest area. The remaining categories are grouped by area of interest.
Fundamentals of Modeling and Simulation
Quantitative Methods for Simulation, Modeling and Analysis
Interactive Simulation and Intelligent Systems
The doctoral program will allow up to 30 credit hours to be waived from an earned master’s degree.
Dissertation: 15 Credit Hours Minimum
- XXX 7980 - Dissertation Research 15 Credit Hours minimum
The M&S Qualifying Examination (QE) consists of a written paper and an oral presentation to an Evaluation Committee. Detailed information regarding the M&S QE is provided at this link: http://www.ist.ucf.edu/grad/Forms/phd-milestones.pdf.
Dissertation Adviser and Dissertation Advisory Committee
Students have the responsibility to select a Dissertation Adviser from a list of faculty authorized to direct dissertations. The student and the Dissertation Adviser, then, must identify and select the other members of the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee. The Dissertation Advisory Committee consists of a minimum of four members.
All committee members should hold a doctoral or terminal degree and be in fields related to the dissertation topic, and at least three members must be regular Modeling and Simulation graduate faculty (one to serve as chair) from at least two UCF colleges. At least one member of the committee must have served as a committee member on a prior M&S Thesis or Dissertation Advisory Committee. In some cases, with approval from the Program Director, a committee member may serve as co-chair of the committee. The M&S Program Director can assist students with selection of their adviser as well as with committee formation, additions, and deletions. The UCF College of Graduate Studies has the right to review appointments to advisory committees, place a representative on any advisory committee, or appoint a co-adviser.
The Candidacy Examination evaluates the student’s preparation to perform independent research to undertake the research in the student’s dissertation topic. A student may sit for the Candidacy Examination upon:
- passing the Qualifying Examination;
- completing all conditions placed as a result thereof; and
- completing all but 6 credit hours or less of the courses prescribed in the student’s Graduate Plan of Study.
The Candidacy Examination includes all of the following:
The Dissertation Research Proposal
The research proposal is a written exposition of a academic or scientific topic and specific research question(s)/hypothesis(es) that is/are developed by the student; the research proposal identifies the chosen area(s) of research and offers convincing support of the need for the research investigation being proposed. Specifically, the research proposal includes at least the following components:
- Motivation of the research investigation. Background and the motivation for the pursuit of the dissertation topic should be clearly and thoroughly explained including the historical and modern view of the topic and the rationale and need for the proposed research. The specific research questions(s)/hypothesis(es) that is/are being addressed and the research objectives must be described;
- Literature review on the topic of the dissertation. A good literature review expands upon the reasons behind selecting the research question(s)/hypothesis(es). The review is an extensive summary and synopsis of the area(s) of research, and it provides a critical and in-depth evaluation of previous related research on the topic. It is an abstracting and synthesis of previous research, and the review explains how it integrates into the proposed research investigation. All sides of an argument must be clearly explained, to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted; and
- A detailed proposed methodology for conducting the research. This ethodology must be consistent with the requirements of the field. It is customary to include any preliminary modeling and results in this discussion to show the potential of strengths and weaknesses of the methodology.
An oral defense of the Dissertation Research Proposal
This defense includes a formal, oral presentation of the written Dissertation Research Proposal before the Dissertation Advisory Committee.
A refereed published or accepted for publication manuscript
Students preparing for the Candidacy Examination should have at least one refereed published or accepted for publication manuscript directly related to the dissertation research, and the student must be a significant contributor to the work and the paper. If the refereed manuscript is not published, it should be fully accepted, and not conditionally accepted. This manuscript may be a journal or proceedings publication from a reputable conference.
All members vote on acceptance or rejection of the Dissertation Research Proposal and the Dissertation Proposal must be approved with at most one dissenting member of the advisory committee. A student is normally given one opportunity to pass the oral defense of the Dissertation Research Proposal, but the M&S Program Director, upon the recommendation of the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee, may approve at most a second attempt.
Admission to Candidacy
In summary, the following are required for a student to be admitted to candidacy and subsequently enroll in dissertation hours:
- Completion of all course work, except for dissertation hours;
- The Dissertation Advisory Committee is formed, consisting of approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars;
- Submission of an approved Graduate Plan of Study;
- Successful completion of the Candidacy Examination (see Candidacy Examination section above for details).
The Dissertation Defense is a formal, oral examination of the written dissertation before the Dissertation Advisory Committee. All members vote either “Pass” or “Fail” of the written dissertation, and the dissertation and Dissertation Defense must be approved with at most one dissenting member of the advisory committee. A student is normally given one opportunity to pass the oral defense of the dissertation, but the M&S Program Director, upon the recommendation of the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee, may approve at most a second attempt.
Plan of Study
After admission to the PhD program, students should file a Graduate Plan of Study (GPS) with the Modeling and Simulation Graduate Program Office.
The purpose of the GPS is to design an appropriate program of coursework to support a student’s area of graduate study and to meet the specific educational needs, goals and objectives of that student. The coursework must be selected to form a unified, cohesive plan of study. All graduate credit in a doctoral program must be at 5000 level or higher, and at least one-half of the credit hours used to meet program requirements must be in 6000-level or 7000-level courses.
The GPS should be developed under the supervision of the Dissertation Adviser(s) and members of the Dissertation Advisory Committee, although initially it may be constructed under the supervision of the M&S Graduate Program Office.
Changes in the Graduate Plan of Study can be made (due to course offering deletions, schedule conflicts, etc.) and with the approval of the M&S Graduate Program Office.
Programs of Study for students seeking a doctoral degree should be on file with the College of Graduate Studies by the end of the third major term of enrollment (based on full-time enrollment) and must be on file prior to the change to candidacy status.
Full-time students in the Modeling and Simulation PhD program pay a $27 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled. Part-time students pay a $13.50 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled.
For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.
In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements , applicants to this program must provide:
- One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended
- An official, competitive score on the GRE taken within the last five years
- Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
- Goal statement
- The goal statement should discuss all relevant professional background and any previous research experience. The statement should explain the motivation behind the pursuit of a Doctoral degree in Modeling and Simulation. Future career goals after the completion of the applicant’s doctoral study should be discussed.
- Most importantly, the applicant must clearly describe the particular area(s) of research interest. The applicant should identify at least one UCF faculty member who shares a similar research focus and is believed to be best suited to serve as a potential dissertation advisor.
- The goal statement should between 500 and 1,000 words.
- Three letters of recommendation
- The letters of recommendation should be from faculty members, university administrators, and employers. The letters, which must be current to the application, should address the educational and career goals of the applicant. The letter writers should also know the applicant well enough to discuss the applicant’s capacity to perform, excel and succeed in a graduate program. Letters for PhD applicants must discuss the applicant’s ability to perform graduate-level research. At least two of the letters should be furnished by college or university professors who are acquainted with the applicant.
Applications are accepted for the fall and spring terms only.
Applicants who are reapplying for admission need not resubmit transcripts and GRE scores if the transcripts and scores are previously filed with UCF. However, the following application requirements do need to be current for the new application for readmission:
- Résumé/Curriculum Vitae
- Goal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
Students who enter the Modeling and Simulation Program are expected to have an academic and/or work background that has prepared them in mathematics (introductory calculus and probability and statistics) and computer literacy, including proficiency with word processing, spreadsheet, and database programs, and, preferably, familiarity with at least one higher order programming language (e.g., C/C++, Visual Basic, Java, etc.). Students with undergraduate or graduate degrees in Engineering, Computer Science, or Mathematics will generally have this background.
For students with less technical academic preparation, the prerequisite core course IDC 5XXX Introductory Mathematics for Modeling and Simulation will prepare them to pursue the required core course IDC 6XXX Mathematical Foundations of Modeling and Simulation. This prerequisite course will also prepare students to pursue several, but not all, of the focus areas. For example, these students could pursue the Simulation Mangement or Human Systems focus areas but would need a number of prerequisite courses in mathematics, statistics, and computer science to pursue focus areas such as Simulation Infrastructure.