Dr. Charlie Hughes

Inducted October 2020

Plaque Inscription:

Dr. Charles Hughes’ accomplishments span greater than 50 years. The profound difference he’s made in the lives and education of his students has been recognized with teaching awards seven times between 1995 and 2015. He has more than 80 grants and contracts, three patents, and nearly 250 publications. His presence at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and his mentorship of high school, undergraduate and Ph.D. students, have made him an industry force multiplier.

He is noted for his work in virtual learning environments and has been a strong influence for the development of UCF’s position as a leader in simulation since joining the university in 1980. He is the founding director of the Synthetic Reality Laboratory, co-lead of the Learning Sciences Faculty Cluster, and founding and co-director of TeachLivE, a revolutionary simulation program that trains the teachers of America’s most at-risk students.


Dr. Hughes’ educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Northeastern University in 1966, as well as master’s and doctorate degrees in computer science from Penn State University in 1968 and 1970, respectively. As an undergraduate, his work at RCA focused on simulation in support of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, Satellite Interceptor, Lunar Excursion Module, and Automatic Test Equipment programs. He was also the chief architect and implementer of RCA’s software to emulate the IBM 7094 and Anyuk computers using a proprietary micro-programmable computer.

Since entering academia research, Dr. Hughes has focused on the development of learning environments, ranging from virtual machine simulators in the 1970s to virtual/augmented/mixed reality systems starting in the late 1980s and continuing to the present. His work in virtual worlds started with contributions to the development of protocols used in SIMNET and DIS, which included work on algorithms for real-time dynamic terrain and fluid flow within these environments. This was followed by the development of DARPA-supported work in the mid-1990s to use virtual environments in DODEA schools used in Germany and middle school mentors in the U.S.

In the first decade of the 2000s, his research emphasis concentrated on the developing mixed reality simulations to aid soldiers in situational awareness. In the second decade, his focus has been on taking the lessons learned from this previous research to create simulated classrooms to prepare teachers for diverse classrooms. Recently, this concept has extended to preparing medical residents for challenges in interpersonal interactions with patients possessing intellectual challenges or might be practicing self-injury. His latest research points to another decade of developing virtual learning environments, but with a focus on students who face academic/social challenges, such as with autism.


Dr. Hughes is unique in the modeling and simulation (M&S) field. His lifetime accomplishments include both applications of M&S technology, as well as basic research in the underlying technologies. Beyond the direct impact of his research and publications, Dr. Hughes has dedicated a significant portion of his career to teaching, and he has received recognition for his skill and accomplishments with awards from peers and students.

Equally focused on developing future generations of M&S professionals, Dr. Hughes has been instrumental in the growth of UCF into a driving force of modeling and simulation, holding key positions for several years. His presence at UCF is prolific, having served as professor, co-director and co-chair of colleges, schools, centers, clusters, institutes and laboratories.

Dr. Hughes has served the M&S industry at the international level, sitting on IEEE and ISMAR program committees, editing journals, and participating in industry boards and conference committees. He and his research programs have been awarded nearly 100 public, private, industry, government, military, university and philanthropic grants and awards. These funds were used to advance the human experience through modeling, simulation and computer science, covering a wide range of scientific applications in fields as diverse as medicine, education, entertainment, environmental science and the social sciences.