HEAT 3D Engine

What is the HEAT 3d engine?


A USU team, working with a variety of open-source libraries and code, designed and created a 3D simulation engine. The HEAT engine, developed to employ unique attributes to support multi-player simulations, read-out assessments, and reflective replay activity, has successfully been used to create a training program for emergency response personnel. In addition, other projects are currently in the research and development phase.

Videos demonstrating the technology can be found by clicking on the following, HEAT engine demonstration.

History of the HEAT 3D Engine

In 2007, a team from Utah State University took a conglomeration of open-source libraries and developed the software necessary to create an effective 3D simulation engine.

Dr. Brett E. Shelton of Utah State University was contacted by the Utah Institute for Emergency Services and Homeland Security to build a 3D simulation that would train first responders in emergency situations. HEAT (Hazard, Emergency and Accident Training) is an open-source 3D simulation, built around the 3D engine, and has been successfully used to train first responders.

The HEAT simulation is a 3D networked multiplayer game-like environment in which players have the opportunity to not only learn and practice tactical response skills in a controlled, operations based real-time instructional environment, but to practice and improve skills dealing with incident command or an incident commander.


Dr. Shelton and Utah State University hold several patents on the engine software. The unique features of the HEAT engine enable replay and regen at the point-of-failure rather than after action review. In addition, the software offers real-time automated assessment features.

Some libraries that have been used in the development of the engine include:

• Ogre3D for graphics and animation
• CEGUI for the user interface
• PostgreSQL as a database storage backend
• Libpqxx for interaction with the PostgreSQL database

The advantage of a computer-driven simulation (as opposed to a role-playing simulation or an exercise using a real burning structure) is that it can introduce environmental variables that could not be introduced in a simple role play (like the pseudo-real-time progression of a fire, visual cues, real-time movement, etc.), while not requiring expensive builds of models to be burned and rebuilt. The simulation will also remove the safety risk associated with other sorts of fire-related exercises.

Ojective and Aims

The overall objective of the project is to develop new software that extends the functionality of the HEAT 3D engine to create a shell or template that can be reused. This shell will allow users to easily and efficiently add and modify content for interactive communication training scenarios.

Current R & D projects include:
• Hill Air Force Base – Suicide prevention training programs
• F.I.T. Forensics Investigation Training
• Salt Lake Community College Green building retrofitting simulation and Certification


The IDIAS team has a significant research focus on instructional games and simulations. Core research questions include: What are the best practices for mobile platform template development? How extensive or elaborate should the shells (or templates) be for effective training applications? How do people learn using the unique instructional design attributes that exist within the game engine? How can they be put to best use? What companion training options are necessary for certification and remote assessment of learner practices?