The university conducts research through numerous institutions and centers, including the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, Institute for Simulation and Training and Institute for Economic Competitiveness. Prior to the Institute for Simulation and Training, UCF (FTU then) faculty and students provided support and research for the Naval Training Equipment Center that was located at the Orlando Air Force Base. In August of 1982 that changed with a proposal for a multidisciplinary institute which would lead to the creation of the Institute for Simulation and Training several years later. In May of 1985, the Institute had its first director and at the beginning of 1986 a groundbreaking ceremony was held for an actual IST facility. Within three years though, it outgrew its facility and had to move into the Research Pavilion.
In its five years at the Research Pavilion, IST led breakthroughs in simulator networking and computer-generated forces that Senator Sam Nunn declared that Central Florida was the nation’s hub of simulation technology and that UCF was America’s leading Simulation University. This declaration led to an even bigger and better facility, known as the Bennett Building, for IST. Florida Governor Lawton Chiles added more honors in 1997, proclaiming the Central Florida Research Park “the National Center for Simulation.” In ensuing years the research park and surrounding area grew to become arguably the nation’s highest concentration of companies and agencies dedicated to simulation and training-related research and development.
With that said, it’s not surprising that IST once again outgrew its office and lab space. A state-supported opportunity for some real construction led IST to design and build the Partnership II building. In November of 2004, the institute moved some of its labs and offices onto two floors of the five-story building. Six years later, in October of 2010, the labs and offices remaining in the Bennett Building, and a new high performance computing center temporarily housed in the University Tower across the street, moved into the first and second floors of the newly completed Partnership III. As the names imply, the buildings are occupied by a mixture of IST, UCF and defense agency tenants.