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SPIA to Host Wildfire Simulation Competition

This spring, NC State will be one of twelve universities from around the world to host the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Wildfire Simulation Competition. The competition challenges student teams to develop – over the course of a few short hours – a joint wildfire plan for a fictional western town. By learning and deploying skills in negotiation, collaboration, and decision-making, students will work with their peers from around the country to tackle a problem that has all too many real life analogs.

The decision to act as a host site was a natural one as the Department of Public Administration is home to several leading disaster scholars. This includes the NC State Fire Chasers Project and an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Public Administration at NC State University and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment that is dedicated to improving community resilience to wildfire. 

Between expertise in wildfire, emergency management, environmental policy, and service to the leadership of NASPAA, the faculty in the Department of Public Administration are already confronting many of the issues the Wildfire Competition will highlight.

“Improving community resilience to wildfire is a wicked problem that will require our MPA students to find viable policy solutions in the context of diverse interests and perspectives,” said Branda Nowell, Professor of Public Administration at NC State University. “This will be an exciting challenge for these students and a great learning opportunity.”

Helping to judge the competition will be experts and practitioners, including: Katie Lighthall, Coordinator of the National Cohesive Strategy Western Region; Amy Orders, Senior Director, NC State Emergency Preparedness and Strategic Initiatives; Robert Mickler, Associate Professor of Forestry, NC State University; and Hannah Thompson-Welch, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, Firewise USA-North Carolina Forest Service.