Let’s Get to Know Each Other: CFL-WID Member Showcase
Dr. Beth Biddle, our showcase member for this newsletter issue, is President of our Central Florida WID Chapter. I interviewed her about her career, hobbies, and what brought her to WID.
: Beth is a Technical Fellow at Boeing, providing guidance and oversight for human performance engineering, training services, and advanced learning research and development.
Beth began her career as a substance abuse counselor in South Florida. After five years, she found herself frustrated: “I felt I wasn’t helping the people I wanted to help.” She learned about the human factors psychology program at University of Central Florida (UCF) and decided to audit a class to find out if she liked it. In the first class meeting, the professor asked the students to take turns explaining their interest in human factors psychology. When Beth’s turn came, she said she’d like to be able to develop a virtual reality (VR) application that kids could use “to experience what it’s like to be high or on drugs as a good substance-abuse prevention tool.”
After class, a fellow student offered to introduce Beth to someone interested in similar ideas. This introduction led to a position at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, where Beth worked on a VR Training project for navy surface officers. This work led to PhD dissertation research on adaptive training titled
Virtual Agent Applications
, which she completed at UCF. From UCF, she went to work for a small business called Sonalysts and then on to Boeing a short time after, where she has been for over 16 years.
: In addition to her involvement in WID, Beth is dedicated to supporting the National Training and Simulation Association’s annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). She has participated in organizing and running I/ITSEC since 2003 when she joined the Research and Development Subcommittee. She served as Deputy Program Chair in 2015, overall Conference Chair in 2018, and is now Conference Scholarship Chair. In addition to all this (and more), Beth is leading the organization of the I/ITSEC Future Leader’s Pavilion, where high school students show their modeling and simulation projects. The students additionally submit papers for review, providing them with opportunities to interact with and receive mentoring from the I/ITSEC community.
Beth has been working to integrate WID activities into I/ITSEC. This began in 2016 with the first WID-run I/ITSEC lunchtime event, a cyber panel. “Every year since we’ve had a panel or speaker event open to WID members and non-members. The last two years, we added a special event. In 2018, it was on IA [information assurance]; 2019 was on immersive technologies.” To increase their reach and the involvement of WID membership, Beth has made all these events accessible without a conference registration.
. During these COVID-19 times, Beth has switched from daily runs to daily kick-boxing on her porch. Her parents live nearby and so she also uses her free time to visit with and check on them.
Sources of Inspiration
. When asked about sources of inspiration, Beth named two people who have encouraged and inspired her: Debbie Berry and Cyndi Krisan. She met and found mentors in the two over the course of her I/ITSEC work.
Becoming Involved in WID
. Beth learned about WID from Debbie Berry, a founding member of our chapter and our first chapter President. In 2013, Beth joined WID and the CFL-WID Board as Special Projects Director. She says she was drawn to WID by the fact that “there are a lot of very good women role models.” She also saw it as an opportunity to help women in our community develop professionally: “It’s a way to give back to other women since I’ve had so many help me.” Another source of appeal is that WID allows her to meet, interact with, and learn from women across many different career tracks—“from active service to finance and contracting to program management.”
. Beth’s involvement in both WID and I/ITSEC is driven by a goal to help others. As our chapter President, she organizes, contributes to, and advocates for WID activities, programs, and scholarships that will help others. In her I/ITSEC role, she is actively working to use I/ITSEC as a platform to enrich knowledge, networking, and opportunities for both our WID community and Central Florida students.