SIG spotlight: Serious Games in the Engineering and Manufacturing domain

Nowadays it is not so strange in industrial systems that the environment, the role of people, the technologies, the machines and the procedures have been changing very quickly like a blink. In this situation one of the most important questions is: how employees can adapt their selves with these changes? And how companies can update their employees while advanced technologies are coming up day to day?

The answer is not simple; having knowledge workers and multi skilled employees who can deal with unexpected situation is a wining card for firms in order to survive in current sever competition market. It absolutely needs novel educational and learning systems which can train these valuable employees.In the other side in engineering and management schools where future engineers and managers are trained, traditional education systems are little by little being replaced by more productive methods which are not boring and bring students involvement in the learning process.

 

 

Games can be a good solution. In recent years children and adolescents are taking most of their times to play games even more than times that they spend in schools. It is not so astonishing and if you look at around you can see them while they are sticking in game story. You maybe think that this is a threat, but do not worry because this threat can be transformed to opportunities. Nowadays entertainment characteristics and educational contents are seamlessly integrated in serious games. It means players learn targeted knowledge in the same time that they are playing. It is so interesting and applied in many areas such as healthcare, tourism, business and so on. In recent years, it has also been appeared in manufacturing and engineering domain. In particular serious games provide an opportunity for learners by putting them in a specific learning environment where players can assume different roles in a manufacturing firm. In addition teaching promising concepts in this area such “Lean production” , “Sustainability” , “Supply chain management”, etc are based on playing game in some engineering and management schools.

In the Cybertronic simulation game players can improve their skills in several ways by taking the role of product designer, manufacturing engineer, marketing expert and product manager in electronic manufacturing company. Also in the Circuit Warz game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg_S8HKBjdQ) students can learn electronic and electrical principles by playing a game in a competitive environment and working in a collaborative team. In EduTorcs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYGwaI-haOM&feature=related) game students learn complicated mathematical contents where they should compete with each other in “Formula 1 Tournament” by designing a race car.

LeanPPD;Lean Product and Process Development; (http://www.leanppd.org/) is a project funded by European Commission aimed making progresses in Lean production concept. Politecnico di Milano with the contribution of other participants has designed four games for teaching various area of lean production concept for both students and employees. Generally the satisfying feedbacks have been coming back from the learners. Some of them have stated, “Oh, we are playing for one hour! How the time is passing very quickly and finally we can design a lean airplane”. It sounds interesting that learning and enjoyment can be integrated in an efficient way.

In conclusion applying games can be a supplementary method for teaching engineering principles and manufacturing concepts. But it seems, playing games is not still accepted by the people in this area. Therefore it definitely needs comprehensive efforts those can prove the advantages of serious games. For example, attempting to evaluate the current games can reveal and highlight the effectiveness of serious games in different aspects. The results can stimulate learning program designers, tutors and learners in order to try games as a learning method.

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