Digital Shipbuilding Research

Digital Shipbuilding is making an impact on shipbuilding, Artificial Intelligence enabled training and instructional systems​, Innovative curriculum development and delivery​, Maritime Cybersecurity and more
Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation Port of Virginia Project

PI: Dr. Rafael Diaz; CO-PIs: Katie Smith and Hector Garcia

The modernization of terminal operations and facilities and the increased use of intermodal transportation at the Port of Virginia is illustrated in their Capital Investment Plans and the 2065 Master Plan. Significant investments are focused on electrification and promoting the use of alternative intermodal transportation. This transformation entails a shift towards the extensive use of operational technology (OT) and digitalization.

The evolution toward cyber-physical systems (CPSs) increases the complexity of operations as devices extensively require reliable communication, coordination, and control systems. The emergence of CPSs and extensive use of OT inexorably increases operational complexity and exposure to cyberattacks. Regrettably, man OT systems are not designed against unprotected intrusion, and collectively, may represent a substantial source of supply chain disruption. These industrial OT systems are characterized by the presence of hierarchies and hyper-vulnerabilities at different operational levels.

Cybersecurity protection of these systems requires a systemic approach to evaluate their vulnerability, cyberthreats, and countermeasures. However, current evaluating technologies are applied mainly to IT systems and commonly lack systemic perspectives that consider overlapping risks and tiered hierarchies at the OT layer. Particularly, as an extensive volume of vehicle movements occur at different stages of arrival, transit, and departure of cargo, false information attack of vehicle communication is of preponderant attention. With a view to overcoming these limitations, we propose to develop a simulation-based framework to gain a systemic cybersecurity perspective of the diverse and interconnected OT systems that define the CPS ecosystem of the Port of Virginia with a focus on vehicle communications.

Propelling STEM

PI: Jessica Johnson; CO-PIs: Katie Smith, Bratislav Cvijetic, and John Shull

The Propelling STEM project, in collaboration with Newport News Public Schools and Newport News Shipbuilding seeks to make impactful connections for students in 3rd through 8th grade through an interactive and gamified exploration of ten digital shipbuilding areas. The immersive website will provide explorations in digital shipbuilding and repair content, careers, and pathways. Propelling STEM will host four gamified simulations and six interactive simulations integration Virginia Department of Education’s computer science standards, STEM career pathways, and at-home connections for students. The targeted ten digital shipbuilding areas include: additive manufacturing, virtual reality/augmented reality, smart shipyard, automation, cybersecurity systems, visual work instructions, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, electrical renewable power, and digital thread.

Project goals include:

-Increased user awareness of 10 digital shipbuilding areas and content

-Connections of content and innovations to students’ real-life

-Enhanced computational thinking skills

-Connections to VA SOLs and VDOE computer science

-Interactive and gamified explorations of maritime industry content and pathways

-Increased access to STEM innovations and equitable access to content.

Maritime Career Experience (MCx)

PI: Jessica Johnson; CO-PIs: Katie Smith, Bratislav Cvijetic, and John Shull

Maritime Career Experience (MCx) is a partnership between Epic Games, ODU-VMASC, and regional maritime shipbuilding and repair industries to research, design, and develop the first immersive simulations of maritime STEM careers in virtual reality. MCx leverages the agile Unreal Engine platform to develop high-resolution and impactful immersive experiences highlighting specific careers and simulations of the daily roles in those positions. MCx seeks to alter misconceptions encompassing the maritime industry for future workforce and propel explorations of high-need professionals and careers. MCx will provide significant contributions to the current body of research by studying user interaction within simulations and incorporating feedback to reveal influences of STEM perceptions.

Project goals include:

-Exposure to Industry 4.0 technologies and applications to careers

-Enhanced immersion in maritime careers

-Targeted partnerships amongst industry and academic partners

-Increased access for underrepresented communities to digital technologies

Contribute, Approve, Curate, Hyper-Distribution Engine (CACHE)

PI: Katie Smith; CO-PI: Jessica Johnson

In collaboration with Design Interactive and funded by a Phase I STTR from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), we have supported the design and development of a web-based knowledge curation and distribution system. This system used artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate knowledge sharing from expert Sailors to be accessible to trainee (or learner) Sailors in a way that is available, accurate, and accessible.

This project completed Phase I in December 2021 and has been invited to submit a full Phase II proposal.

Operationally Directed Instructional Network-Engineering Library (ODIN-EL)

PI: Katie Smith; CO-PIs: Jessica Johnson, Joseph Kosteczko and Deri Draper-Amason

Legacy training systems have intrinsic value demonstrated by their perseverance as they have withstood the test of time.

Framework for Intelligent Training with Feedback:

-Learning and Practice (Content and training delivered using modern learning managment systems)

-Knowledge and Skill Assessment (Competency based assessment rubrics and subject matter expert guidelines linked to a competency model through a competency framework)

-Learning Artifact and Information Storage (Learner interaction with and mastery of skill path objectives, assessments, and tasks stored in modern databases enabling customized learner feedback)

-Decision-making and Competency Assessment Engine (Transforming learning artifacts into tailored individual and programmatic metrics and feedback from a system that becomes smarter over time)

-Tangible Outputs (Meaningful outputs for learners and program stakeholders such as real-time, interactive dashboard visualizations and competency-based resumes)