PORTLAND — The University of Southern Maine is opening a simulated hospital unit complete with computerized dummies to provide training for nursing students.

The idea of the hospital rooms and mannequins that can “breath” and “talk” is to give students a chance to get as close as possible to the real thing.

USM says research shows that nursing students who engage in simulations have greater retention of knowledge and skills, and are better prepared for their clinical placements.

Funding for the Simulation Center, which opens Thursday, was made possible through federal funding.

The USM School of Nursing is the largest program in Maine, with 545 undergraduate and graduate school students.