seal  Purdue News

July 16, 2004

Purdue to present WMD terrorism simulation, speakers, discussions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's Homeland Security Institute will present a supercomputer-based simulation of a domestic terror incident to give local, state and federal officials the opportunity to practice and coordinate the efforts required to respond to a real incident.

The event, which will involve a weapons of mass destruction simulation, will start at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday (July 27) at Rawls Hall and in Purdue's new Envision Center, which is located off the walkway between the Memorial Union and Stewart Center.

The Envision Center is a next-generation telecommunications facility with computers that simulate solid objects via "haptics" displays and is unusual among visualization facilities because of the combination of technologies and disciplines it incorporates.

The simulation continues Wednesday (July 28). Registration and breakfast begin at 8 a.m. in Rawls Hall with the simulation kicking off at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 2:30 p.m.

Alok Chaturvedi, director of the Homeland Security Institute, said the goal of the simulation is to use the best computer technology available to provide participants with as realistic an experience as possible.

"We'll provide policy-makers and responders with a virtual 'Ground Zero' experience to analyze and understand the 'real' complexities of an incident," Chaturvedi said. "The participants will be able to test strategies, policies and procedures in order to better generalize response strategies in a 9/11-type situation."

Earl Morgan, director of the Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council and a simulation participant, said, "By exercising response strategies, we better ensure preparedness to react, respond and recover from actual emergencies. The Purdue Homeland Security Institute's supercomputer-based simulations are tools we believe will prove beneficial to local, state and federal officials in their homeland security efforts."

Participating agencies include the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Transportation Security Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Justice, Federal Emergency Management Administration, American Red Cross, Indiana State Police, and Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council.

Chaturvedi said the terrorism simulation scenario and specific WMDs are being kept confidential in advance of the event so participants can respond to the scenario without any advance warning.

Charles McQueary, undersecretary for science and technology for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will speak on "The Role of Science and Technology in Protecting America," at 9 a.m. Wednesday (July 28) in the third-floor forum area of Rawls Hall. The talk is free and open to the public. Before being confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his current position, McQueary was president of General Dynamics Advanced Technology Systems in Greensboro, N.C.

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke will make opening remarks at 1 p.m. Tuesday (July 27) in the third-floor forum area of Rawls Hall before the simulation. Provost Sally Mason will speak at 8:45 a.m. before the Wednesday (July 28) simulation at the same location.

The simulation exercises will include workshops, after-action reviews and breakout sessions to interpret the experience and discuss future plans and policy formulation.

The terrorism simulation is based on computer technology called Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulation (SEAS), the result of nine years of research and development funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research and several Fortune 500 companies. Previously, SEAS has been used in U.S. Department of Defense exercises and market-simulation competitions for Purdue's Krannert School MBA students.

For the simulation, each of the team participants will be equipped with handheld wireless and laptop computers linked to supercomputers located at Purdue and Indiana University connected through the state's I-Light gigabit network. Indiana is believed to be the first state to deploy such a high-performance data network, which is capable of moving the entire written contents of the universities' libraries from one campus to another in seconds.

Other activities that will take place surrounding the simulation include a meeting of the Homeland Security Institute's external advisory committee and a review meeting with the National Science Foundation, which has provided funding to the Homeland Security Institute.

Chaturvedi, who also is an associate professor in the Krannert School, said the simulation and related activities are designed for academics, public officials and the military and are not open to the general public.

Purdue's Homeland Security Institute, founded in August 2002, has initiated partnerships with other universities, including IU, Princeton, Rice and Cornell; local and state agencies, including the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette, the Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council, the Ports of Indiana and the Indiana Health Industry Forum; and businesses, including Eli Lilly and Co., Roche Diagnostics Corp., Raytheon and Arnett Clinic.

Chaturvedi's research in synthetic environments, terascale grid computing, computational models of human behavior and homeland security simulations has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund and the Office of Naval Research.

Chaturvedi also founded Simulex Inc, a company located at the Purdue Research Park, that markets and provides simulation exercises to public companies and other organizations.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Source: Alok Chaturvedi, (765) 494-9048,

Earl Morgan, (317) 232-8303

Wendy Madore, Homeland Security Institute communications coordinator, (765) 494-9823,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: While the Homeland Security Institute is not allowing media to cover the actual simulation because of confidentiality issues, there are two media opportunities available. On Monday (July 26), print and broadcast journalists are invited to media day from 1-4:30 p.m. in the Envision Center, located off the walkway between the Memorial Union and Stewart Center. Journalists will have access to Purdue homeland security leaders and can participate in a mini simulation from 3-4 p.m. Photo and video opportunities will be offered. Charles McQueary's talk at 9 a.m. Wednesday (July 28) is open to media coverage. Journalists also will have access to the simulation after-action review and have the opportunity to interview participants at 2-2:45 p.m. on Wednesday (July 28) in the Envision Center. For appointments and advance scheduling, journalists can contact Wendy Madore, Homeland Security Institute communications coordinator, (765) 494-9823,

A publication-quality photograph of Alok Chaturvedi is available at

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