1108 A Video Game for Motivating Difficult Mathematics in Engineering Courses

Friday, February 19, 2010: 2:50 PM
Room 3 (San Diego Convention Center)
Brianno Coller , Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
The mathematically intensive courses are typically the most difficult to teach in the mechanical engineering curriculum.  In these classes, there is often an extra layer of mathematical abstraction that separates the course content from the fascinating stuff (e.g. cars, planes, rockets, robots) that make students want to become engineers. We are currently teaching two such courses with a video game. It is a car driving game, with a look and feel similar to successful commercial video games like Need for Speed and Gran Turismo. However, players/students do not “play” our game like a traditional video game.  They interact with the game through a software interface we have created.  Instead of spending countless hours, joystick in hand, honing their eye-hand coordination and reaction skills, our mechanical engineering students improve their “driving” skills by solving complex engineering analysis problems. We have found that students taking a game-based engineering course spend more time one their course work.  They are more motivated and more engaged in the work.  Also, they appear to learn the material more deeply that students taking traditional textbook based courses on the same subject.
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