Construction Today - January 2017 - 96
By Todd Andrew
rlando might be best known for
its tourism industry, but look
closer and you'll find a more diverse
economic landscape - one that has
been quietly emerging over the past few years.
Ever since the early 1970s - when the
arrival of Disney began transforming the
region from orange groves into a top vacation
destination - construction projects have been
tied primarily to hospitality, homebuilding
and retail. Today, however, a budding defense
contracting industry built on high-tech
modeling, simulation and training (MS&T) is
providing new opportunities for commercial
and light industrial construction.
Nowhere is this more evident than 15
miles east of downtown at Central Florida
Research Park, a 1,027-acre, 126-building
CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM JANUARY 2017
campus adjacent to the University of Central Florida (the nation's
largest public university by enrollment). Here, some pretty exciting
developments are shaping not only the future of America's military,
but the local construction industry as well.
About the Simulation Industry
At the Research Park, a number of companies, think tanks, academic
institutions and government agencies are collaborating to build
human-performance systems that train personnel in every branch of
the Armed Forces. Together, they are known as Team Orlando.
One member of the team, the Naval Air Warfare Center (which happens to be the world's smallest Navy base), operates in a nondescript
office building where simulators help fighters prepare for missions
aboard ships, aircraft and submarines. All the technology is created
nearby, and it is used on bases the world over to train almost every soldier deployed overseas, as well as those from select coalition countries.
According to Team Orlando, its members manage more than $16
billion of simulation projects, with $4 billion in annual funding from