A paper co-authored by Brigham Young University civil and environmental engineering professor Rollin Hotchkiss and former graduate student Brad Singley was selected as this year’s Best Zone Paper by the American Society of Engineering Education.
Their paper examined an affordable method of bringing engineering education to developing countries using computer simulations.
“Dr. Hotchkiss and I were looking for a way to teach a very specialized subject,” said Singley, who now works as a hydraulic engineer in Seattle. “Computer-based learning seemed like the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to reach these engineers,.”
Many developing nations face the problem of sedimentation buildup in reservoirs, thus rendering water stores useless, Hotchkiss said. Through his work with UNESCO, he was asked to find an inexpensive way to train engineers, technicians and students to solve sedimentation problems.
Using Adobe Flash, Singley and Hotchkiss created an interactive computer program that puts users in the shoes of an employee working at a fictional reservoir. Students collect their own data with tools found in their virtual office and then learn to apply engineering principles just as they would at an actual job site.
The engineering “video game” has proven to be an effective teaching tool, Singley said.
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Writer: Brady Toone