Engineering Education Delivered in a Game-based Virtual Environment
2023-09-14, 11:10– (Asia/Tokyo), 4F Large Conference Room

With the advent of technology and the internet, learners today have become more accustomed to interactive media and self-exploratory learning tools. As such, gamification and self-directed learning approaches can be attractive for learners due to the shift in the way they learn.
This paper presents an engineering simulation game built for a module called Thermofluids, offered to Year 1 Engineering students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The aim of the game is to uplift the teaching and learning of engineering concepts and principles particularly in the domain of Thermofluids by providing students with an engaging, interactive, and self-paced learning experience. The game was developed in-house using the Unity3D game engine that allows for the creation of interactive 3D simulations and games; designed for self-directed learning which permits students to begin at a level that they can understand to construct knowledge at their own pace. The player experiences the game from a first-person perspective and takes up an intern persona who works in a sci-fi themed factory. The gameplay requires the player to complete a series of lessons, tasks and quizzes related to the topic of water pumps and steam systems.
An initial small-scale study was undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of this learning approach, two methods were used: an evaluation survey of 200 students and a performance comparison between an experimental group (with exposure to the game) and a control group (with no exposure to the game) in their ability to answer a pump design exam question which requires students to apply their knowledge on sizing the pump to meet certain design specifications. A hypothetical p-test at a 5% significant value was conducted to compare the performance between these two groups. The probability was found to be less than 0.05, indicating strong evidence that the experimental group's performance was significantly better than the control group, thus further supporting the hypothesis of the game being an effective reinforcement learning tool. In addition, the evaluation survey results showed that 70.5% of students agreed that they were able to understand the engineering concepts presented through the gameplay and 61.5% of students agreed that the game was effective in delivering the concepts to them. This study suggests that the use of gamification and self-directed learning pedagogy in simulation games can be an effective approach for enhancing engineering education.

A self-directed learning simulation game has been developed in-house using Unity3D to teach engineering concepts in the Thermofluids domain. The game was designed with the incorporation of gamification elements to engage students in self-paced learning. Players assume the role of an intern working in a sci-fi factory, complete lessons, tasks, and quizzes related to water pumps and steam systems. Comparison results showed that students who used the game performed better on assessments and had a better understanding of the topic compared to those who were taught using traditional methods. The study suggests that simulation games and self-directed learning pedagogy have the potential to enhance engineering education.


Engineering simulation game, Gamification, Self-directed learning, Thermofluids, Unity3D, Interactive, Self-paced.

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