Computer Game a Building Block for Engineers

Carnegie Mellon University engineering students are using the building blocks in a popular computer game to make materials. “When you make materials, it’s like building things,” said B. Reeja Jayan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “Minecraft is the maker’s game. You can build anything.” In her special topics course “Materials and Their Processing for Mechanical Engineers,” Jayan uses Minecraft game modules to help upper-level undergraduate students appreciate the properties of building materials. Jayan said this is the first time the game has been fully integrated into a university-level engineering course, which was first offered last spring. Minecraft appeals to a wide audience because players can customize their playing experience. Unlike games in which players move neatly from one checkpoint to the next, Minecraft encourages players to wander, explore and interact with the environment, using tools and materials to modify and rearrange their surroundings. The game lets players creatively solve problems they encounter when building structures.”