ARA Offers Free Interactive Learning Tools for Students, Medical Personnel during COVID-19


The Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) has released free downloads of two of its serious games, Mission Biotech and HumanSim: Sedation and Airway in support of our nation’s educators, students, and healthcare workers as they adapt to new ways of learning and working In response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mission Biotech

Mission Biotech

Mission Biotech, an educational, immersive 3D game featuring many hours of gameplay and challenges is being offered free to educators as well as students interested in learning how scientists search and test for clues to identify a virus during a pandemic outbreak. The game presents an immersive storyline that teaches middle-school students and above the laboratory protocols and real-world concepts, procedures, and tools of the biotechnology field.

Mission Biotech is a great way to encourage careers in biotechnology,” said Randy Brown, ARA vice president and division manager of Virtual Heroes, which developed the game. “This game offers students a way to play, learn, and become a real hero of tomorrow.”

In this single-player, first-person adventure game, users play as members of a virtual team trying to stop the spread of dangerous pathogens, and the clock is ticking. Gameplay includes discovering and using high-tech, fully-functional laboratory equipment, collecting badges and clues, and unlocking mini-games that reinforce scientific concepts.

One of those virtual reality mini-games teaches the concepts behind the three-step DNA extraction process, and the other teaches the concepts behind the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) process. These are processes used to test for pathogens such as the currently circulating coronavirus.


HumanSim: Sedation and Airway

The other free download, HumanSim: Sedation and Airway, is designed to help medical staff gain experience and improve quality of care by coupling an immersive training environment with an advanced real-time physiology engine.

The downloadable, PC-based software training program allows physicians, nurses, medics and other emergency personnel to practice Rapid Sequence Induction (RSI) and Moderate Sedation, techniques for quickly sedating and intubating patients. Healthcare students and volunteers may also find it interesting to learn the techniques.

“Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the battle with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. We are providing our nation’s real heroes with this immersive training environment, providing valuable skills such as intubation that they might need for the first time in real-world COVID-19 scenarios. Our goal is to get this training tool in the hands of as many healthcare workers as possible to help develop the ‘muscle memory’ they need to perform these critical tasks.” - Randy Brown, ARA vice president and division manager of Virtual Heroes

Many patients who become critically ill with COVID-19 require airway management in response to acute respiratory distress syndrome, a condition in which fluid collects in the lungs’ air sacs and deprives the body’s organs of oxygen. Those who develop acute respiratory distress syndrome often require intubation and support from a ventilator.

The dynamic virtual human technology software simulates real patients, enabling users to sharpen their assessment and decision-making skills through observation of the physiological effects of their actions. Trainees are challenged by 10 separate scenarios that cover a wide variety of patients. Workers can replay the scenarios in normal and expert modes, as well as select a random scenario challenge. Reference documentation for all procedures is also available for download.

Resources and downloads

Mission Biotech was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Florida, and developed by the Virtual Heroes Division of ARA. HumanSim: Sedation and Airway was funded by the Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and developed by the Virtual Heroes in conjunction with the Duke Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center. Both were built on the Epic Games Unreal Engine.

This educational outreach is being coordinated between ARA, the Serious Play Conference, and the National Center for Simulation, all in Orlando, Florida.

Visit to see a software overview of Mission Biotech and download the game at

For an overview of HumanSim: Sedation and Airway, visit and then go to to download the trainer and reference materials today.

Randy Brown
ARA VP, Virtual Heroes Division Manager

About Applied Research Associates, Inc. & Virtual Heroes
Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) was founded in 1979, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to offer science and engineering research to solve problems of national importance. ARA delivers leading-edge products and solutions for national defense, energy, homeland security, aerospace, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. With over 1,400 employee-owners at locations in the U.S. and Canada, ARA offers a broad range of technical expertise in defense technologies, civil engineering, computer software and simulation, systems analysis, biomedical engineering, environmental technologies, and blast testing and measurement.

The Virtual Heroes Division of ARA creates immersive, 3D interactive learning solutions and high-fidelity synthetic virtual environments. Our goal is to create realistic, detailed training, simulation, and educational solutions to engage learners, increase knowledge, and accelerate performance, efficacy, and skills. Virtual Heroes is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and in Orlando, Florida.

For more information, please visit or