Behind the Screens: Practical Challenges and Innovative Solutions for Cutting-Edge Simulation Spaces

Shawn Diederich, The Clark Enersen Partners
Kate Hier, The Clark Enersen Partners

Simulation has existed in various forms and in a multitude of fields for centuries. Without the benefits of modern technology, simulators were often low-fidelity and enabled learners to simply scratch the surface of experiential learning. In recent decades, however, technology has allowed simulators and simulation scenarios to become increasingly life-like, allowing experiential learning to be placed at the forefront of education in medical, engineering, veterinary, finance, military, athletics, and many other realms. The increased focus on the benefits of hands-on and in-situ learning has allowed simulation to flourish, and the growth of this pedagogical model has presented a new set of opportunities for designers.

This session will explore a series of design challenges that go hand-in-hand with the creation of high-fidelity simulation spaces, along with practical and innovative solutions for solving them. Attendees will discover how acoustics, light control, transparency, flexibility, and spatial movement are impacted by the practical constraints of simulation spaces. The presenters will also discuss how the effectiveness of simulation-based pedagogy is driven by the integration of virtual reality, energy efficiency, remote connectivity, full-immersion sensory tactics, interdisciplinary approaches, and data harvesting. Upon the completion of this session, attendees will have a deeper understanding of practical constraints and innovative solutions associated with scenario-driven learning, along with tools for responding to the rapid evolution of simulation trends.

Learning Objectives

  • Discover the increasingly important role of simulation in a wide variety of fields.
  • Understand the general theory behind experiential learning and its impact on space-shaping.
  • Uncover practical challenges associated with the design of simulation scenarios, along with innovative solutions for solving them.
  • Look ahead to future trends in simulation.


Shawn Diederich is a Senior Principal and Director of Engineering at The Clark Enersen Partners. Throughout his twenty years of experience, he has specialized in the programming, design, and project management of science, research, and simulation facilities. As a leader of the firm's Science and Research Design Team, Shawn's focus is the integration of innovative building systems to enhance scientific outcomes.

Kate Hier is an Architect, Associate Principal, and Laboratory planner at The Clark Enersen Partners. During her eight years of professional experience, she has led design on numerous projects at higher education institutions and medical education centers across the Midwest. As an integral part of the firm's Science and Research Design team, her professional interests lie at the intersection of systems thinking and design excellence.


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