The Certified Modeling & Simulation Professional (CMSP) Program Why It Was Created, Where It Stands Now, and What You Can Do to Support It

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1 The Certified Modeling & Simulation Professional (CMSP) Program Why It Was Created, Where It Stands Now, and What You Can Do to Support It RADM Fred Lewis, USN (Ret) and Patrick Rowe Introduction Why does any profession need a certification program? Simply because, without one, there is no way to determine who is truly qualified to practice that profession. Doctors must go to Medical School and then pass the Boards in order to practice. Lawyers must go to Law School and then pass the Bar. But in many lines of work, the path to success is much less clearly defined. In many lines of work, what happens usually over a substantial matter of time - is that members of the profession (often under the auspices of an association representing the industry) decide to develop a certification program. There are a myriad of reasons for doing this: to propagate the use of best practices; to provide an indexed Body of Knowledge for assessing what people in a profession need to know, and to provide via the application and testing process - a pool of certified individuals who have been judged to be qualified and able to perform the job in question. It usually takes a fair amount of time, but often these certifications become the industry standard, and are well-recognized and respected within their profession, and beyond. The Certified Modeling & Simulation Professional (CMSP) program, now 6-7 years old, has not yet reached widespread acceptance. But our hope is that the designation will become the industry standard in the years to come, and that: 1) those within the profession will feel compelled to get the CMSP credential, as it will both provide a concrete symbol of their knowledge and expertise, and also further their careers; and 2) companies will encourage or require their employees to pursue the CMSP credential both to ensure that their employees are well-educated and certified - and to demonstrate this fact to their customers; and 3) customers will require companies doing work for them to have CMSP-certified employees, so that they have a reasonable expectation of competency and professionalism. In addition, with the proliferation of M&S into so many new application areas, the CMSP designation could very well take on additional meaning and value as an "identifier" of excellence across many different areas of practice. The Birth of the CMSP Program It was about ten years ago that discussions regarding a certification program for Modeling & Simulation professionals began SCS M&S Magazine (January) Lewis & Rowe - Page 1 of 5

2 to take shape. The modeling and simulation profession, industry and market were rapidly maturing, yet lacked the identity, unity and recognition of similar fields like computer science and systems engineering. In the course of many informal discussions between interested parties, it became clear that a formal certification program was vital to the future of the industry and the Modeling & Simulation profession. As it was, the profession was poorly defined if it was defined at all and many who considered themselves to be in the vanguard of the industry had no formal training or qualifications in M&S, and no way to measure and/or demonstrate their expertise. A certification program would provide quantifiable answers to questions such as: 1). What constitutes the profession of Modeling & Simulation? 2). What are the things that a practitioner of Modeling & Simulation - a simulationist - should know? 3). Who is competent to practice M&S? the program. Should there be multiple levels of certification? Should there be multiple tracks? How should the program be structured to be inclusive of a myriad of subspecialties and specific application domains? In the end, the MSPCC decided to develop as a starting point - a single certification, to be called the CMSP, the Certified Modeling & Simulation Professional certification. The credential would be targeted to the Defense Training and Simulation community represented at forums such as the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education (I/ITSEC) Conference. This was deemed to be the natural place to start, given that: 1) the majority of the drivers of the certification initiative were involved in this community; and 2) this community was the most identifiable starting target market for a certification program for M&S. The initial certification was created, however, with an implicit understanding that the program would evolve through time, and would perhaps have multiple levels, tracks, and/or specialties in the future. Under the auspices of the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA), the Modeling and Simulation Professional As part of the pre-launch of the program, Certification Commission (MSPCC) was two groups of individuals were awarded the formed and tasked with developing and CMSP certification: overseeing a professional certification program for the M&S profession. The Pioneers: members of the MSPCC, MSPCC consisted of representatives from Certification Board and Exam professional societies such as NTSA, SCS Subcommittee who led the establishment of (the Society for Modeling and Simulation the MSPCC and the subsequent certification International), and SISO (the Simulation process. Interoperability and Standards Organization), as well as from various Charter Members: a group of individuals universities (e.g., University of Central were nominated by their peers to participate Florida, Old Dominion University, in the first round of certification. During the University of Arizona), and numerous certification process these individuals were corporations and government organizations. required to present proof of their There was exhaustive and often exhausting qualifications and activities within the M&S - debate regarding possible ways to structure SCS M&S Magazine (January) Lewis & Rowe - Page 2 of 5

3 community. These Charter Members provided feedback on beta versions of the CMSP exam, and provided additional test questions and/or feedback on the exam. The Mechanics of the CMSP Program The MSPCC created a two-phase approach to obtaining the credential: 1) Evaluation of Credentials; and 2) Evaluation of Knowledge. It also determined that all CMSP applications would be submitted and reviewed via the web, and that the CMSP exam would be administered online. In order to apply for the CMSP credential, each applicant must complete the online application and pay the $250 application fee. Each applicant needs a certain amount of work experience in M&S, with the requisite amount (in years) dependent on the highest level of degree held by the candidate: PhD plus 3 years; Masters plus 5 years; Bachelors plus 6 years; and Associate plus 8 years. In addition, each applicant must furnish three detailed letters of reference that speak to their expertise in Modeling & Simulation and their suitability for the CMSP credential. Once the applicant s application has been reviewed and approved by two members of the Certification Board, the applicant is ready to take the online exam. The exam is structured so that all applicants must display a mastery of General M&S Knowledge, but also have the opportunity to focus on their areas of expertise. All questions are either multiple choice or True/False. Each applicant must answer a set of General M&S Knowledge questions. After that, there are six categories of questions under M&S Applications, and nine categories of questions under M&S Technologies. Each applicant must complete three categories of questions in each of those two sections, as outlined here: M&S Applications (Answer questions in three categories of your choice) a) Science & Research Issues b) Human Factors in M&S c) Interactive Modeling & Simulation d) Discrete Event Simulation e) Operations Research f) Quantitative Aspects of M&S M&S Technologies (Answer questions in three categories of your choice) a) Architectures b) Computing & Networking c) Conceptual Modeling d) Human-related issues e) Mathematics f) Modeling methods g) Paradigms h) Physics i) Visualization This structure allows each applicant to tailor the exam to his/her strengths. Since the exam is taken online and each applicant has 30 days to complete the exam, applicants also have the ability and opportunity to conduct additional research if necessary. In addition to the General, M&S Applications, and M&S Technologies questions, each applicant must complete an essay on a broad topic such as Identify the most significant issues and needs in the modeling & simulation industry today. Discuss these by indicating their significance, relationships and evolution. Essays are not graded, per se, but help to provide a more complete picture of each applicant s abilities. Slow but Gradual Growth of the CMSP Program SCS M&S Magazine (January) Lewis & Rowe - Page 3 of 5

4 Since the program opened to the general public in late 2003, approximately 150 individuals have attained the CMSP certification. Needless to say, this number is lower than the MSPCC had hoped and expected. There are many reasons for this, but the chief one is a perceived lack of value both within the customer community, many of whom don t understand what the CMSP credential is, and also within the practitioner community, many of whom don t yet understand how the CMSP credential will help them in their careers. This situation was surely the same, however, with all certification programs at one point in their evolution. This does not mean that the CMSP program is a failure, or that it won t over time - grow into the standard of excellence for the Modeling & Simulation industry. It just means that we still have a ways to go to get there. Current and Future Developments A reconstituted CMSP Board of Governors has taken it upon itself to review and revise every aspect of the program. This has resulted in a new governance structure, with new sub-committees with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and a revised, detailed Program Plan outlining every detail of how the program will be governed, managed, and administered. Over the next few months, the CMSP website ( will be revised and updated to highlight this new Program Plan, and to make it easier for prospective applicants to quickly find the information they are looking for. One major development is the addition of a second certification track and a corresponding revision of the CMSP exam structure. In addition to the current CMSP designation, which will henceforth be known as CSMP (Practitioner), applicants will now have the option to pursue the CMSP (Management) certification, designed for the community of managers, customers and users of Modeling & Simulation, who may have a great deal of expertise in M&S, but are not engineers and are not necessarily involved in the actual nuts and bolts of creating models and simulations. The CMSP (Practitioner) track will continue to focus on the knowledge and skills critical to the engineer/simulationist community. A new exam structure along with stringent requirements for the development of exam questions - has also been outlined. Now that there are two certification tracks, new exam content outlines are being developed for each. Each exam will again consist of a group of core (general) questions, followed by a choice of questions from categories covering more specific applications, technologies, and specialties. The Exam Development Group is getting underway with the process of reviewing, recategorizing, and adding to the current bank of CMSP exam questions, and the goal is to have the new exam(s) in place by the end of Complete details will be published as they are finalized, so please keep an eye out for updates. How You Can Support the Program 1) The easiest way you can support the CMSP program and in doing so the stature of the Modeling & Simulation industry as a whole is to apply for certification. The credential needs to attain a certain density to gather momentum and, to put it simply, the more people get certified, the more it will be recognized, and the more it will mean. The $250 certification fee is very low, compared to most other SCS M&S Magazine (January) Lewis & Rowe - Page 4 of 5

5 professional certifications, and the way that the exam is structured, and the fact that it is administered online, means that as long as you approach the exam seriously, you should be able to pass it. 2) Within your organization, please raise the issue of supporting the certification at the corporate level. If your organization could commit as a start - to requiring its five most experienced M&S professionals to attain the CMSP certification, that would result in tremendous growth and advancement for the program as a whole. 3) Share your feedback. If you have thoughts and/or suggestions about the certification program as a whole, or suggestions about the structure of the exam or even specific exam questions, please share them with the leadership of the CMSP program. We can only improve the program with your help. The CMSP Board of Governors and the professional staff of NTSA, which administers the day-to-day operations of the CMSP program, is doing its best to improve and revise the program to better meet the needs of M&S industry professionals and those who use their services. We will do our best to keep the community updated on any and all developments regarding the CMSP program, and we hope that you will seriously consider helping us to nurture the CMSP certification into a mature and meaningful credential that truly represents the professionalism of the Modeling & Simulation industry. About the Authors RADM Fred Lewis, USN (Ret) is the President of NTSA and played a primary role in the creation of the CMSP program. Patrick Rowe is the Director of Membership for NTSA and is the primary Point of Contact for the day-to-day operations of the CMSP program. He can be reached at SCS M&S Magazine (January) Lewis & Rowe - Page 5 of 5

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