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Former Board member Arthur Bienenstock to Advise Startup Developing New Training Technology

March 14, 2014
CCST Senior Fellow Arthur Bienenstock, Stanford Professor of Applied Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Presidential Advisor for President Obama and President Clinton respectively, is working with Sunnyvale startup Morf Media.

CCST Senior Fellow and former Board member Arthur Bienenstock, Stanford Professor of Applied Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Presidential Advisor, has signed on to work with enterprise start-up Morf Media Inc., a company specializing in mobile simulation training.

"In many ways, the process of learning really hasn't changed all that much since the days of Plato," said Roy Hanif, head of the Morf Media team based in Sunnyvale, California. "We truly believe that our immersive simulations are at the crest of a new training paradigm with significant potential for changing the way we teach people."

Morf Media's simulations seek to engage employees by mimicking real-life situations to enable learning through practice, in a responsive 'gamified' environment which leverages advances in both behavioral science and simulation technology.

"Morf Media offers the possibility of making important adult training interesting, fun and effective," said Bienenstock. "In a recent survey of federally-funded academic researchers, the various required training sessions were frequently cited as tedious and time consuming. I hope that Morf Media's approach will make such training more attractive, particularly for graduate students and young scientists."

The Swiss-based company located its programming center in Sunnyvale due to the strong pool of skilled programmers in the area.

"Right now we are focusing on proving our tool set in one area [customer service]," said Hanif. "If we can demonstrate that performance gains are significant enough, we can readily expand into other areas.

The Sunnyvale area is home to one of the largest cluster of high-tech startups in the country, with nearby Stanford University in particular as a significant startup hub. One recent study study of active companies founded by people linked as alumni or faculty to Stanford estimated that approximately 39,900 companies provide about 5.4 million jobs and have approximately $2.7 trillion in annual revenue.

"In our present recession, start-ups are critical for economic recovery," said Bienenstock. "In that context, one of the great values of federally funded university research is that it creates a pool of expertise that is available when needed for advising industry."

While much of Bienenstock's experience has been providing advice in a policy context, rather than industry, he responded positively when Morf Media approached him.

"The linkage with Morf Media has offered me the opportunity to learn something completely new with significant potential societal value while, hopefully, providing useful advice," said Bienenstock. "I see the potential impact as great for middle and high school children in addition, of course, to the adults Morf is aimed at now."

CCST Spotlight is a weekly newsletter focusing on CCST activities and highlighting innovative science and technology research, applications, and policy issues in California. The Spotlight editor is Danny DeCillis. We welcome information and feedback from our readers about science and technology at work in the private, public, and education sectors. To send us questions or comments, contact us at, or (951) 682-8701.