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The Scholar Team

Dr. Connie Ayers

Founder and CEO 

Connie Ayers is the founder of SCHOLAR, the only simulation of its kind in existence. She designed and first implemented the simulation program in 2010 with faculty and students at Texas Woman’s University’s (TWU) Nelda C Stark College of Nursing in the Texas Medical Center. Since 2010, Dr. Ayers has worked to expand the concept of the simulated hospital environment in nursing and health care education using the 72-hour simulation to bring difficult real life scenarios such as homelessness, Alzheimer’s disease, and death and dying into already medically complex multi-patient scenarios. 

 

In 2014 she was selected as a Gold Humanism Scholar and received competitive funding through the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for the Harvard Macy Institute to use the 72-hour simulation as her project focusing on improvement of empathy and patient- and relationship-centered care within this already complex multi-patient scenario. This resulted in her selection as a Harvard Macy Scholar to participate in the Harvard Macy Institute’s Program for Educators in the Health Professions in Boston. 

 

Dr. Ayers is a Registered Nurse with a BSN and MS (Nursing) from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a PhD from TWU. She served from 2001 to 2018 as Associate Professor of Nursing at TWU and was appointed Associate Professor Emerita of Nursing in 2018. In her position at TWU, she taught in the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs in the College of Nursing. She also served as Baccalaureate Nursing Coordinator and Director of Undergraduate Nursing in the Nelda C Stark College of Nursing at TWU-Houston. Prior to her appointment at TWU, she was a full Professor and Director of Nursing at Truman State University in Missouri. She has published and presented nationally and internationally. 

 

Dr. Ayers was awarded the TWU College of Nursing Excellence in Teaching Award, the Good Samaritan Excellence in Nursing Education Bronze Medal and in 2004 was recognized as one of 20 Outstanding Nurses in Houston by the Texas Nurses Association District 9. 

Andy Foster

Co-Founder and Chief Simulation Consultant

For the first 10 years of his 27 years at NASA, Andy was a Space Shuttle control/propulsion instructor where he trained Space Shuttle astronaut crews and flight control teams in the use and troubleshooting of Space Shuttle control/propulsion systems. During this time, he qualified as an ascent specialist responsible for ascent, ascent abort, and contingency abort training of both astronaut crews and flight control teams. Andy was responsible for training shuttle astronaut crews how to manually fly nominal ascents, intact aborts, and contingency aborts.

 

Later in his career, and up to the end of the Space Shuttle program, Andy served as a Space Shuttle flight operations safety engineer where he was lead engineer for the SAIC Shuttle Safety Flight Operations group and NASA Safety & Mission Assurance (S&MA) Lead for Shuttle Mission Engineering Room (MER) operations. He served as Space Shuttle S&MA program board representative to the Ascent/Entry Flight Techniques Panel, Shuttle Range Safety Panel, the Launch Commit Criteria Working Group, and the Crew Procedures Change Board. As a Shuttle Safety MER Console Operator and Shuttle MER Safety Console Ascent and Entry Specialist, he provided a GO/NO GO for the MER safety console during launch. In his work as a Space Shuttle control/propulsion instructor, Andy was recipient of the prestigious Silver Snoopy and Manned Flight Awareness Awards at NASA, among others.

 

Prior to NASA, Andy served in the US Navy where he was a Naval Flight Officer/F-14A Radar Intercept Officer with US Navy Fighter Squadron VF-51 on board the USS Kitty Hawk and USS Carl Vinson. He has over 1000 flight hours in the F-14A Tomcat.

 

Andy has a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree from Auburn University. He holds FAA Commercial and Instrument pilot ratings and is a light sport Certified Flight Instructor. He is co-founder of SCHOLAR which uses Space Shuttle program training approaches to build and execute integrated simulations.