ATEC Nurse Training Simulations Singled Out for Awards
Students Train in a Virtual Environment Before Confronting Live Patients

Two nursing education research projects developed by the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering (IIAE) at UT Dallas in collaboration with the UT Arlington College of Nursing have received national and state recognition this spring.

Innovations in Health Science Education  award uses interactive technology and virtual environments to help graduate students study for practitioner degrees and certifications.

One project — “Can Game Play Teach Student Nurses How to Save Lives?” — has been named a 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate.  This game-based simulation uses 3D infant patients in a synthetic environment to give undergraduate nursing students virtual clinical practice opportunities.  The project was funded through a UT System Transforming Undergraduate Education grant. It will be recognized for its applications of information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change at the Computerworld Laureate Medal Ceremony and Gala Evening on June 4 in Washington, D.C.

A second research project,, tied for first place as Best Demonstration Project at the “Innovations in Health Science Education” conference sponsored by the University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education. The recognition is voted on by attendees at the conference, which is sponsored by the six health science campuses within the UT System.

A project called “Can Game Play Teach Student Nurses How to Save Lives?” uses 3D infant patients in a synthetic environment.

The project gives undergraduate nursing students virtual clinical practice opportunities. is a blended-learning website that incorporates interactive technology and virtual environments to assist graduate students seeking nurse practitioner degrees and certifications. The project started with neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) curriculum.   The project is funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. affords students opportunities to practice the knowledge acquired through lecture material through the use of interactive modules and a 3D virtual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The components of the NNP curriculum are presented through lecture notes with embedded media, and a variety of other multimedia forms, including videos, interactive games, simulations and virtual equipment demonstrations.  Students can practice clinical skills in the virtual NICU, an immersive environment where 3D patients present medical conditions covered in lecture content.

Both projects are research collaborations between Dr. Marjorie A. Zielke, in Arts and Technology assistant professor and the associate director of IIAE, and Dr. Judy LeFlore, professor at the UT Arlington College of Nursing.  “These continual awards reinforce the deep talent of our student developers,” Dr. Zielke said.  “I also think we need to give a great deal of credit to our strong collaboration with the UT Arlington College of Nursing.”

“I am particularly proud of the scope of the recognition we are receiving from international conferences to internal recognition by the UT System Health Science campuses,” Dr. Zielke continued.

At the Computerworld awards dinner, the UT System project will be presented with a medallion inscribed with the program’s mission statement, “A Search for New Heroes.”

“The Computerworld Honors program was especially competitive this year, as more than 500 IT initiatives were nominated for their innovation and benefit to society,” said Julia King, executive editor of events for Computerworld.

These new honors are just two of the several awards received by IIAE projects over the past two years.  The UT System project also received a first place award for Emerging and Innovative Technology and Methods at the 2011 International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH). The simulation was used in a randomized, controlled study designed to compare the clinical application of undergraduate nursing students using a virtual clinical experience compared to students receiving the same pediatric respiratory content in traditional lecture format. Results of the study were published this spring in Simulation in Healthcare, the journal of the Society of Simulation in Healthcare.  Another project, The First Person Cultural Trainer (FPCT) won first place in the government category of the Serious Games Showcase at the Interservice/Interindustry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando in December 2011.  Earlier in 2011, FPCT earned first-place in the Innovations in DoD Gaming Competition at the 2011 Defense GameTech Users’ Conference also in Orlando.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

Tagged: ATEC research