Mixed Reality and Mobile Gaming for 21st Century Engineering Education
The research team will address the educational gaps in geotechnical engineering education through the development and implementation of a transferable and scalable Mixed Reality and Mobile (MR&M) Educational Game, “Geo Explorer,” that will be integrated with traditional geotechnical engineering education, which presently lacks opportunities for students to experience the field work and testing necessary to instill practical skills. The proposed MR&M game will build on the positive experience gained from two existing educational games developed by Deltares, an independent applied research institute in The Netherlands. Due to popular request, Deltares has recently decided to build a closed open-source community for development and use of the games by other universities at no charge. The proposed research aims to (i) develop a new MR&M game focused on flood-protection design and field testing that includes real-time game-embedded tools to monitor students’ progress toward learning geotechnical engineering subjects; (ii) develop and implement a course module, which integrates the MR&M gaming environment into geotechnical course curricula and will include actual lab testing, virtual field testing, theoretical system design and virtual practical experience; (iii) develop and implement a hybrid (face-to-face and online) dissemination model for expanding the use of the gaming environment to geotechnical engineering educators; and (iv) evaluate the project effectiveness at accomplishing the first three goals.
A game-based course module will be developed, tested, and implemented in existing geotechnical engineering courses at RPI, Southern Methodist University, Manhattan College and California State University, Fullerton. The proposed game has the potential to transform the way geotechnical engineering is taught by addressing the current critical gap of lack of exposure to field testing and practical experience. Ultimately, the use of MR&M games should result in a better-trained and globally minded workforce. The game will be available for free for educators and its implementation does not require additional resources. The proposed game-based module is flexible and variations of the game can be scaled with little difficulty, depending on the targeted audience. The developed MR&M game can be made available to geotechnical engineering programs throughout the US as well as used by practitioners, such as the US Army Corps of Engineers.