June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Computers in Education
15.229.1 - 15.229.17
Beyond Simulation: Student-Built Virtual Reality Games for Cellular Network Design Abstract
This paper reports on experience with modifications to National University’s “Wireless Engineering Software” and “Radio Systems Modeling” courses to enable students to gain experience in wireless communications engineering through designing, building and then using simulation games for network design and radio design. Game design has been incorporated as a primary learning tool into these courses in the Master of Science in Wireless Communications degree program.
Laboratory experiments and simulations are already used in some engineering curricula. The introduction of interactive simulation games in virtual environments goes a step further. The games simulate real world engineering dynamics and improve retention of complex concepts. Furthermore, the depth of learning increases as the students design and build the games, instead of just playing them.
The processes and principles of game design have been adapted from National University’s School of Media and Communications (SOMC). SOMC currently uses this approach to successfully teach game design in its digital entertainment and interactive arts program, with the core objective of creating “playcentric” video games.
To expand this process to engineering courses, faculty from SOMC and the School of Engineering and Technology (SOET), collaborated to combine engineering processes with game design techniques to teach interactive games for designing a cellular communications network and digital radio design to engineering students. Game rules, built by the students, must incorporate principles of mathematics, physics, and engineering, including the dynamics of wave propagation, binary logic, and the architecture of wireless systems. Students become game designers as they create original games including content from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum. This process makes students more effective system designers by bridging experience to the real world.
Teams of students design and build the games on HP Tablet computers. They then “play” the games in teams, as they compete to design the “best” network and radio receiver for a particular set of conditions. This approach changes student focus from learning of theory to practical application of the theory. The introduction of constructive competition provides an additional element of motivation, as it enhances realism and amplifies student ideas.
This paper reports initial findings from taking existing video game design techniques and processes and integrating them into the wireless communication engineering curriculum. Using
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