Employees of Local Company Take Students on Voyage of 'Discovery'

Published 04.30.2013

Information Technology
Student News
Business, Arts & Sciences

They're not playing games: Discovery Machine Inc. co-workers Todd W. Griffith (standing) and Colin Puskavitz talk with Penn College students about the military-training uses of video technology. Representatives of an innovative Williamsport company visited the School of Business and Computer Technologies this week, recruiting interns and introducing gaming and simulation students to real-world applications of their major. Todd W. Griffith, co-founder and chief technology officer of Discovery Machine Inc., and sales consultant Colin Puskavitz demonstrated a Virtual Battlespace 2 military-training module that combines artificial intelligence with extensive data compiled by subject-matter experts. The result is an immersive environment that replicates what American servicemen and women might encounter in the field. Characters are programmed with particular traits that reflect their culture, daily routine, proficiency with English and other parameters that give the exercise heightened authenticity. "The pattern of life becomes more and more realistic, based on the flow of information through the social network," said Griffith, who explained that trainees can practice establishing rapport with pre-programmed local villagers in order to get more reliable information − information that could, in a war zone, mean the difference between life and death. One of the scenarios played out during Monday's visit involved the planting of an improvised explosive device by an insurgent in an Afghan village, but the flexible program could readily be transplanted into a different global hot spot. Students, from the Gaming and Simulation Design Principles II and Programming II classes, also watched a simulated naval confrontation and were briefed during a Q&A on internship possibilities. The visit was arranged by Bahram Golshan, associate professor of computer science, and Anita R. Girton, assistant professor of computer information technology.