No one ever knows what the future may hold, and often, plans seem to just fall into place. This was the case for Courtney McNamara, a team lead for the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD). While she had no intention of staying in the 23-county region of The Corridor, life had other plans.

“I kind of lucked into it,” said the computer scientist. “I thought I was going to work in California. I didn’t know there was a base and jobs [in Orlando] that allowed me to use these skill sets.”

The University of Central Florida (UCF) graduate was part of a co-op group that eventually led her to a part-time job in the NAWCTSD lab, which quickly turned into a rewarding career for the now mixed-reality lead in command. To assist in training our military, Courtney and her team have adapted technology meant for gaming to create a brand-new efficient and immersive system.

“Our motto is ‘Speed to the Fleet,’” said Courtney. “We only have about six to 18 months for projects. This quick turnaround keeps me engaged. I am always learning new things and coming up with new solutions. There is also a sense of pride in knowing that we’re developing tech that supports our country’s men and women.”

To further assist these efforts, Courtney and the NAWCTSD lab collaborate with other key players in the modeling, simulation and training community. By partnering with organizations like Team Orlando, they work with one common goal in mind: improving human performance through simulation.

“By having these partnerships in place, we are able to push technology further and faster,” said the team lead. “Acceleration is key to our lab’s success.”

In addition to organizational partnerships, her team also partners with universities such as UCF, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida. Through these partnerships, students can pursue the same career opportunity as Courtney. In return, the military has an opportunity to recruit a highly skilled, diverse group of students.

“Ninety percent of the lab workforce are alumni of The Corridor’s three universities,” Courtney explained. “When we are looking for people, we start with internal networking.”

Grateful for the way things worked out, Courtney offers a piece of advice to students looking to call this region their home.

“I wish I knew how many opportunities were here in Orlando earlier on. I could have been looking for different internships and getting a head start,” she confessed. “There are a lot of really excellent companies – big and small – that have incredible developer positions for all engineering/media development types.”

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