• Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor
  • Zero Hour Americas Medic
  • Zero Hour Americas Medic
  • Hilton Ultimate Team Trainer
  • Pamoja Mtaani
  • NASA Moonbase Alpha

What We Do

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    Simulations for Learning

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    Serious Games

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    Virtual Worlds

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    Modeling & Simulation

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    Emergency | Crisis Mgmt.

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    Preparedness Training

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    HR | Compliance Issues

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    Research & Development


Unreal Engine Technology!

UNREAL ENGINE 3 | Proven Core Technology

Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) is a "Made in the USA" complete development framework for PC, console systems, and mobile devices, providing a vast array of core technologies, content creation tools, and support infrastructure.

Integrated with leading middleware technologies, UE3's advanced toolsets are designed to accelerate developers' productivity in creating ultra-complex, next-generation content.

UE3 holds over 25 top technology awards, including seven Game Developer magazine Front Line Awards, a place in the Front Line Awards Hall of Fame, and six Develop Industry Excellence Awards.

From entertainment software to training simulations, UE3 provides the platform and tools necessary to develop cutting-edge 3D products.

UNREAL ENGINE 4 | Realize the Imagined

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) is the next evolution in Unreal Engine technology, featuring jaw-dropping visualizations, physically-based shading, and dynamic lighting systems. Whether you're an indie developer or a major studio, UE4 pushes the cutting edge of future technologies. One engine, one workflow, all platforms, all of your needs.


Training Environments

GO PLATFORM | Creativity Unleashed

The ARA-Virtual Heroes’ Go platform is a browser-based single/multi-player immersive training and education platform based on the Epic Games Unreal ® Engine 3. Go consists of back-end server infrastructure.

Content released on the Go platform is accessed via web server that provides pages containing content plugins as well as an interface to access specific training applications, when authorized. A sample plugin is available to allow visitors to meet and converse in a 3D lounge/showcase environment and provides a way for users to allow users to navigate to other training environments. Browsers currently supported by Go are: Internet Explorer v7-v11, Chrome, and Firefox.

GO Platform

Immersive Simulations


UE3 Web Player

ARA UNREAL ENGINE 3 WEB PLAYER | Unbridled Creativity

The ARA Unreal Engine 3 Web Player is a revolutionary PC browser plug-in that, for the first time ever, allows content created with the Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) to be streamed to and run within a web browser, supporting single and multiplayer gameplay.

We initially developed this plug-in capability for the Air Force, to serve as a foundation for delivering realistic 3D simulations and training courses to AF service members with the strength of full Unreal Engine content and the simplicity of a one-time browser plug-in install.

The Web Player allows users to access immersive, real-time, 3D content at any time, from anywhere in the world, and supports a wide range of PC browsers, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox.

Virtual Heroes is a leading industry expert in the creation of 3D training programs and simulations. We also offer hosting solutions so that your content is accessible whenever your users need it, on demand. Please visit our GO Platform page or contact us for more information.


Prominent Clients


Who We Are

VH Staff Members 2015
VH 10

ARA’s Virtual Heroes Division has a remarkable, successful track record designing and releasing immersive, virtual-world-based serious games and Advanced Learning Technology (ALT) applications. We are uniquely qualified to provide commercial-quality, immersive, 3D virtual world content for training and education.


Awards & Accolades

  • 2011 NASA Group Achievement Award

    2011 NASA Group Achievement Award

    (Moonbase Alpha)

    NASA’s most prestigious awards are presented to a number of carefully selected individuals and groups of individuals, both Government and non-Government, who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission. After a rigorous review, NASA’s highest officials present medals and certificates at the annual awards ceremonies at NASA Headquarters and Centers.

  • Wake Tech Business Leader

    2008 & 2009 Wake Tech Business Leader

    (Computing & Engineering)

    In 2008, Virtual Heroes collaborated with Wake Technical Community College and Eisai Pharmaceuticals on the NC BioNetwork Project wherein 10 students learned how to create a video game to provide a controlled and instructive training environment for Eisai Pharmaceuticals’ tablet manufacturing process. In sponsoring this program, Virtual Heroes contributed to a pool of skilled potential employees.

  • 2005-2007 Military Training Technology

    2005-2007 Military Training Technology

    (MT2) Top Simulation & Training Companies

    Virtual Heroes creates collaborative interactive learning solutions for the federal systems, digital health and corporate workforce training markets. The company advances instructional design, digital engineering, project management, modeling and simulation, courseware development and assessment to provide unprecedented immersive training experiences.

  • 2011-2014 Military Training Technology

    2011-2014 Military Training Technology

    (MT2) – Top Simulation & Training Companies

    Military Training Technology Magazine selected ARA and Virtual Heroes as a ‘Top Simulation and Training Company ′. Sponsored by KMI Media Group, this annual process recognizes the companies that have made the most significant contributions to the training community with their products and services.


    2009 Global Business Coalition, Business Excellence Award

    (Pamoja Mtaani)

    The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) presented their 2009 Business Excellence Awards to eight innovative companies combating global disease. “These award winners are doing exactly the kind of thing that all companies can and should do.” said John Tedstrom, GBC’s President and CEO. “They don’t just talk, they take action. And their action saves lives.”

  • 2010 Best Government game

    2010 Best Government Game, I/ITSEC, Serious Games Showcase & Challenge

    (Moonbase Alpha)

    Virtual Heroes’ Moonbase Alpha STEM education-focused game won the Best Government Game category at the Interservice and Industry Training, Simulation, & Education Conference (I/ITSEC).

  • 2011 Serious Play

    2011 International SERIOUS PLAY Conference Awards

    This recognition program honors outstanding titles that deliver a high quality of engagement and measurable training or learning opportunities. The Serious Play Conference is produced by the Serious Games Association, an international, organization for the entire serious games industry.


Team Players

  • Randy Brown | 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.

  • Sidney Brown | Programming Lead

    Mr. Sidney Brown is the Programming Lead for the Virtual Heroes Division of ARA.  He has over 10 years of programming experience developing with the Unreal Engine.  He began his career at inXile Entertainment where he worked on major Xbox, Playstation, and PC titles, including The Bard's Tale, Hunted: The Demon's Forge, and Choplifter HD.

    Sidney joined Virtual Heroes in 2012 and provides them with the technical support and direction needed to push the boundaries of technology and drive the world of simulation and training software to the next level.  Working with the dev team and clients, he ensures that they exceed customers' expectations.  Sidney is a main point of contact for technical support to Unreal Engine and Go Platform licensees.  Sidney holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from UC Irvine.

  • 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.

  • Steve Sickles| Lead Artist

    Mr. Steve Sickles is the Lead Artist for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc.  He is a 16 year veteran of the games industry and brings his experience from such studios as Sony Computer Entertainment America and Midway Home Entertainment Incorporated.  His additional background in educational games and passion for constructive, high quality content are instrumental in his leading of the Art Team.

  • Greg Peele | Lead Architect

    Mr. Peele is the Virtual Heroes Division of ARA lead architect for the LaSER synthetic environment runtime and LTF terrain format.  He redesigned LaSER to improve multi-threading capacity and reduce streaming latency of terrain, and he led the effort to create a LTF 1.0 specification document Full-newy defining all aspects of terrain representation in the LTF format.  In addition, Mr. Peele developed a Coffee AI sandbox to prototype advanced infantry behaviors using the LaSER environment, led the effort to implement the RUGUD capability to export the CTDB terrain format for use in JSAF by DTRA, and led the effort to integrate HAZUS census data into the RUGUD building generation pipeline.

  • 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 Virtual Heroes, 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.

  • Charlotte Fouque | Quality Assurance Team Lead

    Ms. Charlotte Fouque is the Quality Assurance Lead for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc.  Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, she worked at Playdom, a subsidiary of Disney Interactive, as a Language Tester (French) and Localization QA Lead.  Charlotte has experience in social, mobile (iOS and Android), web-based, and PC game development.  She is a Certified ScrumMaster, and holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from North Carolina State University.

  • 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.


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News & Events

TBJ Thumb
March 16, 2015

Triangle's largest Game Developers

The Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently selected Applied Research Associates, Inc.'s (ARA, Inc.) Virtual Heroes Division (VHD) as one of the Triangle's Top ...

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March 2, 2015

Virtual Heroes and Team Awarded $415 Million Contract

The Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) is part of a team that was awarded a $415 million, five-year contract to support ...

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March 2, 2015

Medical Device Clinical Training and Education Conference

We are sponsoring the 5th Annual Medical Device Clinical Training and Education Conference, March 30-31 in Charlotte, NC.


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