What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Title: Research Assistant Professor
Home Unit: Institute for Simulation & Training
Secondary Unit: Department of History, College of Arts & Humanities
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
My initial project after arriving at the Institute for Simulation & Training as a research associate was the development of historically accurate virtual environments. This stemmed from my previous work conducting oral histories of numerous individuals in Brevard County who had been involved in the space program. While speaking with these individuals, an associate and I scanned a significant number of photographs and documents. These materials provided the visuals required to develop accurate virtual reconstructions of several launch complexes at Cape Canaveral as they appeared in the 1950s & 1960s. Over the years, I developed a series of virtual historic environments that served as platforms for interdisciplinary learning. Recently, I became active in utilizing laser scanners for the digital preservation of Space-Age structures and large artifacts. I conduct a ‘life history’ of each structure, interviewing those associated with its development, construction and operation. My goal is to provide future generations a complete understanding of a building’s significance.
What is your academic background?
PhD in US History – Post World War II US and Public History
What is your favorite UCF memory?
Organizing the 40th Anniversary Reunion for those involved in the launch of Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper. The reunion was held at Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral with Colonel Cooper and his family in attendance. It was wonderful to see the excitement in the eyes of everyone as they exchanged memories with Colonel Cooper at the very location of the launch.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
Greater integration of seniors into the UCF community. While seniors can currently audit courses at a minimal cost, it is on a space-available basis. Often courses are at capacity and there are few opportunities for fixed income seniors to participate. The establishment of a program that guarantees a designated number of seats for seniors could provide for their cultural and intellectual stimulation. The intergenerational transfer of their real world experiences to our students could be tremendous. Additionally, this would expand UCF’s overall commitment to the Central Florida community.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
This is an expansive university – get out of your department and develop partnerships.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
A free study group program for seniors. This would enable seniors to have intellectual stimulation at no cost and, unlike the current audit system, guarantee them the opportunity to do so.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
My laser scanning activities tell me I need to get over to engineering and speak with folks over there.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Randall Shumaker, Director of the Institute for Simulation & Training. Dr. Shumaker was willing to look beyond the traditional bounds of modeling & simulation and envisioned what the humanities could add to IST.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Dr. Heather Frazer. Dr. Frazer was an exceptional professor and mentor. She always had time for her students, both undergraduate and graduate, you never felt as if you were a nuisance. A master storyteller, she could captivate you with what appeared as a story and then you would suddenly realize she had conveyed far more than a recounting of events. Dr. Frazer inspired you to examine a topic from various perspectives and pushed you to develop exceptional research skills. As cliché as it may sound, I hope that I am half as good as she was.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
A Florida History graduate course. The professor directed the class to write a 25-page research paper and I selected the history of the City of Cocoa Beach as my subject. That paper changed the entire direction of my research and enabled me to meet many fascinating people.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Osteen’s in St. Augustine. Their fried shrimp is delicious.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Selecting a single motion picture as a favorite is difficult. The Best Years of Our Lives, The Apartment, Some Like it Hot and Soylent Green are all favorites. I am quite fond of films produced from 1938 to 1975 and not ashamed to say whenever a Doris Day light comedy is on, I will be watching it.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Los Angeles. I find Southern California’s development in the 1950s and 1960s fascinating and there are so many great places to explore and laser scan!