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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 11, 2005

Virtual Soldier Program Receives $1.2 Million U.S. Army Contract

The University of Iowa College of Engineering's Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) program has received a $1.2 million one-year contract from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command Center (TACOM) for work on human modeling and simulation. The new contract means that VSR has received a total of $3.7 million from the U.S. Army to use gaming and entertainment animation techniques to simulate real soldiers.

Currently in its second year of operation, the nationally renowned VSR program is an independent research group within the UI Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD) that conducts basic and applied research for creating new technologies dealing with digital human modeling and simulation. Called "digital humans," the computer screen characters resemble real people and have the potential to save time and money in the testing and evaluation of products, equipment, vehicles and armaments prior to manufacture.

Karim Abdel-Malek, associate professor of biomedical engineering, CCAD director of project development and VSR director, said that the new contract is the latest success for the VSR program as it continues to pursue its goal of eliminating the need to construct extremely expensive, real-world prototypes.

"Working with the U.S. Army TACOM gives us significant leverage as the technology matures to serve the military's needs, particularly in this era of technology transformation. Nevertheless, we feel this same technology will transition into the commercial sector, helping in the design of products for a safer and more human-centric outcome," Abdel-Malek said.

Last year the VSR program exhibited in Los Angeles at SIGGRAPH 2004, the prestigious computer graphics conference, and this year VSR will host the 2005 SAE Digital Human Modeling Conference, the most prestigious international conference of its kind, June 14-16, 2005, in Iowa City. VSR was also invited to share the main booth with the U.S. Army in the SAE's World Congress and Exhibition in the Cobo Center in Detroit, April 11-14, 2005. VSR research on the digital human called Santos received the Outstanding Paper Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress (IMECE) for their paper "The IOWA Interactive Digital-Human Virtual Environment", November 13-19, 2004, Anaheim, CA.

VSR researchers include faculty, staff, scientists, engineers, clinical researchers and graduate students from fields including engineering, gaming, psychology, biomechanics, human factors, computers, optimization and industrial design. Additional information can be found at: http://www.engineering.uiowa.edu/~amalek/VSR/ or www.digital-humans.org.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu