UCF simulation director targets new industries to expand into (by Alex Soderstrom)

Grace Bochenek came to the University of Central Florida more than 20 years ago with a mission.

She worked in ground vehicle and automotive design for the U.S. Department of Defense, and wanted to learn improved design approaches that would make the vehicle systems better for the soldiers using them. UCF, an engineering-heavy school with a long history of nearby military research operations, was a perfect fit.

Bochenek earned her doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from UCF in 1998 and went on to hold positions that included the first chief technology officer of the U.S. Army Materiel Command in Alabama and the director of the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh.

Bochenek soon will return to Orlando as the new director of UCF’s School of Modeling, Simulation and Training. She starts June 1.

Meanwhile, she sees opportunities for further growth of the school, an anchor of the region’s $6 billion modeling, simulation and training industry. “We have a little gem right in the backyard of Orlando around modeling, simulation and training. We need to push that nationally so our students have opportunities to impact not just regional challenges, but so they also can pursue opportunities globally, just like I did.”