ATEC Wins Multiple Honors for Training Games

Two recent projects developed by research teams within the Arts and Technology (ATEC) program at The University of Texas at Dallas have earned industry awards.

One award was presented at the GameTech 2011 Conference in Orlando, Fla., in March for the First Person Cultural Trainer or (FPCT), a 3D interactive training game that teaches soldiers the values and norms of Iraqi and Afghan cultures.

FPCT was honored for “designing and developing a training process that meets training objectives, engages the learner and provides creative training for our war fighters,” according to event sponsor Kristy Murray, director of the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative. 

GameTech 2011

Receiving first-place defense gaming awards at the GameTech 2011 Conference were (from left) UT Dallas Assistant Professor Marjorie Zielke and Benjamin Jordan of U.S. Army TRADOC G2 Intelligence Support Activity.  Presenting the awards was Frank C. DiGiovanni of the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness. 

The game also earned the Cross-Function Team Award at the 2010 Modeling & Simulation Leadership Summit, presented annually by the National Training & Simulation Association and was among the top 10 finalists for the Governors Cup at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in 2009.

“We owe our success to our great sponsors, students and faculty dedicated to these projects and the support of our director, dean, and administration,” said Dr. Marjorie Zielke, an assistant professor in the ATEC program and the UT Dallas principal investigator on the projects. “One thing I am really impressed by is that these awards are coming from different groups, in two totally separate sectors and with different student development teams.”

She added that the awards are extremely competitive with entries from top-tier universities and private industry world-wide. The game design links serious gaming with the Army’s own combat models.

The FPCT game is supported and sponsored by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command G-2 Intelligence Support Activity (TRADOC), which develops the Army’s soldier and civilian leaders. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey (TRADOC Commanding General) wrote a personal letter to the UT Dallas FPCT team congratulating contributors on this honor.

Gen. Dempsey wrote, “Your magnificent work in developing this culturally-based, cutting-edge capability will help to address critical training priorities within stability operations and will ensure that our Nation’s war fighters can more effectively and efficiently accomplish their missions around the world. I am confident we will continue to benefit from your great partnership and look forward to future collaboration.” 

A second project that guides nurses through realistic simulations of pediatric care received a first place award for Emerging and Innovative Technology and Methods at the International Meeting on Simulation and Healthcare earlier this year.  

This project is a collaboration between Dr. Judy LeFlore, associate professor in The University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing and Zielke. The project was supported with funding from the UT System’s Serious Game Initiative, a statewide committee launched in March 2008 to explore how serious games could be used for innovative teaching and learning.

“This shows the depth of the talent in our ATEC program and the broad national and international recognition of our work,” Zielke said. “With the ever-growing demand for cost-effective virtual education and simulation we have good reason to hope that we are at just the beginning of our success.”

Zielke and her co-investigators have been working on game-based simulations, with the help of approximately 30 students at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level. The co-investigators have included Dr. Thomas Linehan, Endowed Chair and director of Arts and Technology at UT Dallas; Dr. Frank DuFour, assistant professor of sound design at UT Dallas; and Dr. Gopal Gupta, professor and department head of the UT Dallas Computer Science department along with sponsor Dr. Judy LeFlore, associate professor of nursing at UT Arlington.

First Person Cultural Trainer or (FPCT) is an interactive training game that teaches soldiers the values and norms of Iraqi and Afghan cultures.


The game acquaints U.S. soldiers with village life in Iraq or Afghanistan.


Players learn to interact with villagers with cultural sensitivity.

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