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Winston “Wink” Bennett, Ph.D.

Inducted October 2022

Plaque inscription:

In recognition of Winston “Wink” Bennett, Ph.D., for his visionary leadership, transformative Air Force research and development efforts, and significant contributions to the modeling, simulation, and training (MS&T) community. As the Air Force Research Labs (AFRL) pProduct lLine lLead for rReadiness, his transformational work in blended simulations (e.g., such as live-virtual-constructive (LVC), resulted in the first live USAir ForceF and USNavy tactical aircrafts’ ability to share secure data to and from ground-based simulations. Dr. Bennett co-authored the USAF Mission Essential Competencies methodology used in over 100 applications,; created a standard, modular approach to satellite operator training,; developed a unique technology to harvest human performance data from aircraft, ranges, and simulators for persistent proficiency tracking,; and led several multinational training collaborations for the USAFAir Force. A fFellow in three scientific associations and AFRL, he is internationally recognized for his leadership in advancing new concepts in MS&T and testing programs within the USAir Force and the Defense DepartmentDoD. Dr. Bennett’s leadership in these innovations, and in gaming simulations within STEM, will continue to impact our next-generation simulation workforce.


In his role as technical advisor to Air Combat Command/A35 Futures Division, Dr. Bennett made significant, numerous contributions to the MS&T world. He has also been instrumental in leading innovation efforts in human performance enhancement and the associated technologies. His professional focus for this task has concentrated on training and resilience training for military personnel deployed to austere locations where they need to perform a wide range of complex tasks. Dr. Bennett led the first “technology sweep” of viable alternatives to support the mission, “Just in Time Multi-Mission Airmen/Warfighters.” He also led the engagement with the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment Readiness initiative, with the goal of ensuring that the technology portfolio was aligned with the field events being conducted. This involved briefing Air Force leadership on matters related to advancements in science and technology and how they can improve the outcomes of combat casualty care.

Dr. Bennett has demonstrated great leadership in advancing the adoption of modeling and simulation for training and assessment of training outcomes. The commander of Air Combat Command requested that he develop their Future Training Concept. This involved a paradigm shift of moving from calendar-based, readiness training, to a capability model that was measurement and metrics-focused, as well as proficiency-based. The technologies that were developed as a result were funded to directly support field assessments. Additionally, Dr. Bennett was designated as AFRL technical advisor to Air Combat Control for Live Virtual Training & Readiness.

He has provided leadership for a team that creates innovations in gaming and training, which support training and basic research in STEM efforts. He developed a game lab “The Grill” to create synthetic task environments and measurement tools, which supports the Air Force Academy’s Cadet Summer Research Program efforts.

Dr. Bennett has been a tireless advocate for modeling and simulation, even beyond his primary professional focus. His energy is legendary in responding to real-world needs and the making world a better, safer place by applying his skills, talents and creativity to those needs, which include the civilian arena. While STEM activities in serious gaming are not central to his role at AFRL, they create a prototype for others to emulate and have a significant impact on the youth in their STEM career choices.


Dr. Bennett served as U.S. Air Force member-at-large to the NATO modeling and simulation group where he led the creation and initial execution of the investment portfolio for the Readiness Product Line, defining several visionary products and capabilities that are used for training and readiness investment and transition. He has distinguished himself among his peers for structuring and co-authoring the U.S. Air Force Mission Essential Competencies, which is still used today by the Mission Essential Competency Team and the University of Dakota. Dr. Bennett helped explore the best way to leverage civilian university flying degrees that provide source pilots for future Air Force flying positions. He has also been sought by the University of Nebraska as a resource to advise and guide the development of medical mission essential competencies for civilian medicine.

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