John Brooks, Mass Virtual’s CEO and founder, has been selected for the Orlando Business Journal’s (OBJ) Veterans of Influence Award.

This OBJ award recognizes Central Florida U.S. military veterans who have made significant achievements in their careers in the last year, have a strong record of innovation and outstanding performance in their profession, and are involved in the local community.

Brooks served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and was a member of the Air Force Reserve and Georgia Air National Guard. He leveraged his military experience and technical knowledge to found Mass Virtual in 2009.

As an aircraft loadmaster, Brooks supported military efforts all over the world, including operations in South America, humanitarian aid across Africa, and U.N. war efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Domestically, he provided humanitarian support during Hurricane Andrew and subsequent flooding in Georgia in 1992.

Following his Air Force service, Brooks became a self-taught 3D artist, seeking out tasks that honed his skills and deepened his understanding of the human performance industry. He gained experience as a weapons system consultant with several large companies working on major training systems and large aircraft procurement and development. Brooks’ time in Silicon Valley provided insight into venture capital and entrepreneurship, and he gained further skills and experience from opportunities in Central Florida’s Research Park, as well as the gaming and entertainment industries.

Brooks’ company, Mass Virtual, is an enterprise leader in the extended reality (XR) landscape.  With over 14 years of experience in immersive design, development, deployment, and sustainment of turn-key training ecosystems, Mass Virtual has delivered nearly 200 training modules, with 300 more projected by the end of 2023. Its signature product, Virtual Hangar, annually provides training on 29 different Air Force platforms to more than 24,000 students across 64 worldwide joint force locations.

Using Virtual Hangar to digitize training overhead has resulted in a reported 45% reduction in classroom hours, 35% more information retained by students, and a 40% decrease in aircraft downtime for training. The Secretary of the Air Force’s energy office projects $6.2 million in annual fuel savings based on Mass Virtual’s C-17 engine and APU training scenarios alone - a savings that grows exponentially when applied to the entire Virtual Hangar fleet.

Under John’s leadership Mass Virtual has increased 11 times from its size in 2020, with nearly 300% of that growth in the last year alone. This growth has added high-tech jobs to Orlando’s MS&T industry. In 2023, the company also received recognition as one of Inc. 5000’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America,” and from the OBJ as one of the “Best Places to Work” in the Orlando area.

 In addition to Mass Virtual’s internal initiatives that work to aid and grow the community through mentorship and work opportunities, Brooks has actively participated in a variety of community organizations, such as the Army Aviation Association of America, DoD Skillbridge, and Soldiers’ Angels. His association with these organizations is primarily focused on helping veterans and families through scholarships, on-the-job training opportunities, and providing other forms of necessary aid, comfort, and resources.

“It’s no surprise that John was selected for this honor,” said retired Air Force Colonel Mike Peeler, Mass Virtual’s Director of Communications. “His contributions to the modeling, simulation, and training enterprise speak for themselves. This, coupled with his involvement in the Central Florida community, make John the example to which all industry leaders should aspire.”

Since its founding, Brooks’ company has been a long-standing member of the National Center for Simulation, the National Training and Simulation Association, the National Defense Industrial Association, among other professional organizations focused on strengthening the XR industry and Central Florida’s MS&T community.

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