E-Games for Active Training in Engineering Design

Region Sacramento Metropolitan Area
Discipline Engineering
Grant Amount Up to $500,000
Institutions UC Davis, American River College, CSU Sacramento
Principal Investigator Angelique Louie (UC Davis)
Co-Principal Investigators Jennifer Choi (UC Davis), Darnel Degand (UC Davis), Joshua McCoy (UC Davis), Will Davis (ARC), Hong-Yue (Ray) Tang (CSU Sacramento)

Abstract

Students in engineering typically spend their freshman and sophomore years taking courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and fulfilling general education requirements. Major-specific training in engineering often does not begin until the junior year. A common complaint is that the first two years of engineering education are too abstract and students are unable to feel a connection between what they are learning and what a career in the discipline is like. Disillusioned students leave early in the curriculum, and underrepresented groups are disproportionately affected.

The project team believes it is critical in the first two years of education to allow students to apply their foundational knowledge to practice—to provide a more engaging introduction to engineering as an exciting and creative career option and to solidify student commitment to their selected engineering majors. Hands-on experience is well known to improve student success measures, and improved performance increases student desire to continue in their studies. Engineering design is an ideal topic to provide higher-level experiences to students, but engineering design courses can be expensive to deliver. It can also be difficult to fit another course into the already unit-heavy engineering curricula.

“E-Games for Active Training in Engineering Design” proposes to provide scalable, meaningful exposure to engineering design to lower division students by creating online game modules that will cover the basic steps of the engineering design process. The modules can be mix-and-matched for use in courses or offered to students for free play. The project team, which includes biomedical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists, educators, game designers, social scientists and students, will harness online education and gaming products that they have made for undergraduate courses in Biomedical Engineering Design and Introduction to Research and create new gaming materials. Games offer an avenue for exploration that sparks student creativity, increases engagement with the material, promotes self-confidence, and allows us to implement “hands-on” design training at relatively low cost to students at California public institutions of higher learning. The project team will explore this adaptive learning tool and evaluate its impact on student learning and retention.

team photo