The Department of Systems Engineering’s Operations Research Center (ORCEN) partnered in a ‘new start’ project with Fort Rucker’s U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) Directorate of Simulations (DOS) in AY20. ORCEN Analyst MAJ Clay Woody led the effort with assistance from MAJ John Case to assess whether or not the Aviator Training Next (ATN) virtual reality (VR) system could help USAACE produce the same quality Army Aviator as historic training methods. They also sought to identify the most effective combination of Live and VR training. A robust Design of Experiment effort evaluated 296 students over 6 cohorts across 7 variants of Live/VR training modules.
The experiment yielded key insights for MG Francis and the USAACE command team. It was discovered that there was no statistical difference in how ATN students and flight school student perform in their Course Management Plans (CMPs); however, the team found that ATN students out-performed their peers in aircraft check rides and academics. MAJ Woody provided a series of recommendations for improvement of the overall pilot training program, and continued deeper experimentation in the different phases of pilot training. The ORCEN will continue this research in AY21. Additionally, DSE onboarded 3 ATN systems for use at West Point. These systems will allow Cadet Capstones to run parallel research efforts.