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Jim Ong



New ITS will enable more realistic and effective simulation-based training for tactical action officers  

SAN MATEO, Calif., April 19, 2006 – Spurred by the success of its pioneering intelligent tutoring system (ITS) for training U.S. Navy tactical action officers (TAOs), Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. ( has been contracted to develop an enhanced version of the simulation-based training system which will make the training experience even more realistic, engaging, and effective.

Under the contract, which is valued at approximately $2.5 million, Stottler Henke is creating software that will work with a Northrop Grumman-developed WatchStation simulator, to be used during training exercises at the U.S. Navy’s Surface Warfare Officer’s School (SWOS) in Rhode Island. Stottler Henke is a software development and consulting firm headquartered in San Mateo, California.

“The second-generation TAO ITS will offer several advantages to the Navy,” Dick Stottler, president of Stottler Henke Associates, said. “First, the speech-enabled graphical user interface will more accurately represent how a TAO actually works on board a Navy ship by enabling the student to converse with simulated crew members to issue commands and receive information. Second, the new TAO ITS will employ intelligent agents, rather than instructors, to play the roles of simulated crew members. This will reduce the staff overhead required to conduct effective TAO training. Third, the new system will automatically evaluate the student’s performance in real-time and infer tactical principles that were applied correctly, or not applied, so it can coach the student during each scenario.”

The TAO controls a ship’s weapons and sensors and directs the movements of the ship, other support vessels, and aircraft. The TAO also monitors the movements and actions of friendly and enemy ships, planes, missiles, and submarines in the region. The TAO integrates this information in real time to form a dynamic tactical picture, select appropriate responses, and issue orders.

The TAO ITS enables students to act as TAOs in tactical simulations. The system displays a geographical map of the region and provides rapid access to the ship’s sensor, weapon, and communication functions. The system is highly configurable – instructors can easily define new scenarios and scenario templates. Stottler Henke’s SimBionic® authoring tool will enable the system’s developers to develop complex behaviors for computer-generated forces, such as friendly and enemy ships and aircraft, without software programming. SimBionic will also enable rapid authoring of sophisticated, pattern-matching algorithms that recognize temporal sequences of simulated actions, events, and states to evaluate the student’s performance and provide feedback.

“The TAO ITS enables both qualitative and quantitative improvements in TAO training,” said Susan Panichas, Northrop Grumman Program Manager for the WatchStation simulator used by SWOS. “Using the ITS, students at SWOS can engage in self-paced instruction and will be able to spend more time practicing their skills. In addition, an ITS classroom accommodates more than twice as many students at one time as a traditional classroom, so training is accelerated.”

A total of 10 areas of expertise will be addressed by the new TAO ITS when it is completed, including surface, undersea, and search-and-rescue operations. The first area Stottler Henke is developing is air defense-detect to engage, in which a student must assess incoming aircraft and respond appropriately. It is expected to be ready for initial use at SWOS this Fall.

Founded in 1988, Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. applies artificial intelligence and other advanced software technologies to solve problems that defy solution using traditional approaches. The company delivers intelligent software solutions for education and training, planning and scheduling, knowledge management and discovery, decision support, and software development. Stottler Henke’s clients include manufacturers, retailers, educational media companies and government agencies. Stottler Henke received a 2004 “Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning” award for innovative technology. For the past three consecutive years, Stottler Henke was named one of the “top 100″ companies making a significant impact on the military training industry by Military Training Technology magazine, and in 2005 received a Blue Ribbon recognizing it as a company that leads the industry in innovation.  Email: Web: