Abstract

Real-life engineering problems relate to different technical aspects to be considered at the same time. Traditional teaching techniques for engineering students (i.e., future decision-makers for such problems) sometimes need to be supplemented to convey this complexity, and thus innovative approaches are needed. A new and useful approach allowing a more intuitive understanding of real-life problems is serious gaming (SG), which combines a game environment and utility functions to address real problems. This paper describes a first attempt to use SG to help engineering students learn and deal with the complexities of designing water distribution networks given multiple objectives and uncertainty. This application of SG relates to five benchmark water distribution networks, and students were asked to find the optimal value of pipe diameters to minimize the capital cost of pipes. The results of the experiment show that students learn in less time how to design water distribution networks while enjoying the experience. Most students found the approach useful, claiming that the difficulty in approaching the pipe sizing problem decreased considerably as the practice of the game increases. The results of the experiment suggest that SG may have value in learning how to design other engineering systems.

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