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We've been working with undergrad and graduate engineering and science students at the Wright Brothers Institute to give them an opportunity to work on real-life, challenging national security problems. We are using virtual collaboration as the media for their team activities and apply real, virtual and constructive techniques to have the collaborate, design and "build" virtual solutions. While most of this happens during the summer and they are attending classes at their universities during the school year, we are extending this virtual world teaching and training to year round applications. So my idea is to balance a university-setting with a virtual setting as we educate our future science and engineering leaders. Just as we balance in-class work with homework, individual studies with team work and academic development with practical experience, adding a powerful virtual component to the real university component should yield great benefits, as we have seen. In addition, the future may be more about virtual collaboration than live collaboration because of resource and energy issues, so why not train our students to operate effectively and efficiently in this world.
Bart Barthelemy, Founding Director, Wright Brothers Institute, email@example.com