Who We Are
Virtual Heroes was founded in January 2004, and through the efforts of its impressive team of creative, technical, and artistic talent, Virtual Heroes quickly won recognition and awards by establishing itself at the nexus of cutting-edge game technologies and world-class production values. From the beginning, Virtual Heroes’ approach to interactive instructional design and experiential learning has focused on simultaneously inspiring and educating across the enterprise. Our highly immersive, dynamic and fun content links learning objectives to measurable performance outcomes.
In April 2009, Virtual Heroes Inc. was acquired by Applied Research Associates, Inc. The Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, with team members in Raleigh, North Carolina and Orlando, Florida, creates collaborative interactive learning solutions for the healthcare, federal systems, and corporate training markets, along with live training solutions and synthetic virtual environments for the government space. Our team has created many GOTS solutions for government customers in the areas of large-scale terrain, automated building generation, and synthetic environment export to a wide range of training platforms. Virtual Heroes’ Advanced Learning Technologies (ALT) platform leverages simulation learning and digital games-based learning paradigms to accelerate learning, increase user proficiency, and reduce training costs.
ARA and Virtual Heroes are dedicated to providing the appropriate learning technologies to support our client’s needs while maintaining the highest business standards and production values at every level, providing the confidence of a stable corporate entity and a long-term technology platform. We strive to listen to and understand our customers’ challenges in order to provide them with the right solutions on time and on budget.
We focus on delivering immersive content in three formats:
Simulations for Learning: Representations of real life that accurately demonstrate a physical or simulated process or phenomenon.
Serious Games: Game technology used for other than purely entertainment purposes including education, training, strategic messaging, mission planning and rehearsal, marketing, scientific visualization etc.
Virtual Worlds: Computer-based, simulated 3D environments intended for many users to inhabit and interact with via avatars.
Our full training development capabilities scale from Flash-based solutions to fully immersive multi-player 3D applications delivered across secure networks, through web browsers, and on mobile devices.
Randy Brown | VP & Division Manager
Mr. Randy Brown is the Virtual Heroes Division Manager at Applied Research Associates, Inc., creating immersive training and education content for commercial, medical, and government customers. Randy has over 25 years' experience in the software development industry. Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, Randy developed interactive 3D graphics software at Amoco, Digital Equipment, Ex Machina, Data General, SAS Institute, Southpeak Interactive, and the Research Triangle Institute of North Carolina. Randy has worked with a wide range of commercial, government, and private organizations, directing content related to science, oil exploration, graphics libraries, visualization, training, education, simulation, and gaming. Randy holds an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Computer Science from Oklahoma State University.
Jeff Lyons | Group Leader
Mr. Jeff Lyons is a Group Leader for the Virtual Heroes Orlando office of Applied Research Associates, Inc. Jeff has been with Applied Research Associates since 2006, specializing in simulating weapons effects in real-time for the live, virtual, and constructive domains. Jeff's accomplishments include helping to develop a complex radar simulation for the F-35 radar system. In addition to having expertise in modeling and simulation, Jeff is well-versed in engineering design and analysis, holding a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida State University and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Steve McIlwain | Senior Producer
Mr. Steve McIlwain is a Senior Producer for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. He has over 10 years of production experience in the 3D animation and interactive entertainment industries. Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, Steve worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation and Blizzard Entertainment. Steve specializes in production management, macro/micro scheduling, team building, and finance. He is passionate about creating virtual worlds that educate, inform, and inspire. Steve holds a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A. from Azusa Pacific University.
Marcia Clover | Senior Producer
Ms. Marcia Clover is a Senior Producer for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. With almost 20 years in the interactive and e-Learning industry, Marcia is very passionate about leveraging technology and user experience design to deliver effective and impactful learning experiences. Throughout her career, Marcia has designed, developed, and managed many projects, including those in the pharmaceutical, retail, advertising, and real estate industries. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Wesley Milks, Ph.D. | Group Leader
Dr. Wes Milks is a Group Leader for the Virtual Heroes Division in Orlando. He has over 20 years experience performing systems engineering and architecture development for large, software-intensive systems. He was chief architect for the Common Training Instrumentation Architecture (CTIA) and Warfighter Simulation (WARSIM) programs. He was also selected as the Standards Category Coordinator for System Design & Architecture coordinating architectural standards for Army simulation systems. In addition to architectural work, Wes performs operations research and experimental analysis including leading the experimental design, data collection, and analysis for DARPA's Real-time Adversarial Intelligence and Decision making (RAID) project. Wes holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio Northern University, an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. focused on Operations Research from the University of Central Florida.
Tim Walker | Technical Lead & Program Manager
Mr. Walker is the Virtual Heroes Division of ARA technical lead and program manager for the Assimilation of Sources for a Cohesive Environment Description (ASCEND) program. Previously, he served in the same role for the Interactive Terrain Generation (ITG) software suite, including the Rapid Unified Generation of Urban Databases (RUGUD) tool, the Urban and Underground Model Generator (U2MG) tool, and the Virtual Infrastructure Protection Editor (VIPER) tool. Prior to his time at ARA, Mr. Walker worked on the CCTT PPSS project for three years, applying previous coursework in graphics and simulation to design/implement new requirements and otherwise maintain the CCTT SAF simulation system. He also worked with the OTB Army team for one year, implementing HLA interactions and introducing functionality required to effectively use the CTDB terrain and MSDE scenario formats.
Brad Willson | Game Design Lead
Mr. Brad Willson is the Game Design Lead for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. A nine-year veteran of the game industry, Brad began his career at Rockstar San Diego as a Development Support Supervisor, where he worked on various commercial game titles including the Midnight Club series, Table Tennis, and Red Dead Revolver. He joined Virtual Heroes in 2006, with the goal of incorporating his commercial game experience into games that had a true altruistic focus.
At VH, Brad works to create, drive, and deliver the overall creative vision for the numerous serious games in development. Brad creates compelling software designs from conflicting viewpoints, communicates the designs to the development team, and translates the designs into detailed software mechanics, gameplay progression, and interface flow. Brad holds a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Purdue University.
Oliver Gray | Game Programming Lead
Mr. Oliver Gray is the Game Programming Lead for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. He has worked at Virtual Heroes in the serious games industry for 7 years, working exclusively with the Unreal Engine. Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, Oliver attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to earn his Bachelor of Computer Science, then attended North Carolina State University to earn his Masters in Computer Science.
Ingrid Silva | Assistant Division Manager
Ms. Silva is the Virtual Heroes Assistant Division Manager at Applied Research Associates, Inc., directing and overseeing daily operations of the division. She has been in the modeling and simulation industry for 18 years, 15 of those with Applied Research Associates. Prior to joining ARA, Ms. Silva worked at the Bank of New York. Ms. Silva specializes in financial and proposal management.