Profs Building Open-Source Educational Gaming Engine

Washington State University Vancouver professor Scott Wallace and University of Puget Sound computer science professor Andrew Nierman were recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build a gaming engine designed to make learning computer science more absorbing for students.

"The idea is, students are really interested in gaming," Nierman told the Tacoma, WA, News Tribune. The  grant lasts two years and will cover costs of students working on the Java Instructional Gaming Project (JIG Project).

The game engine can already can render the effects of gravity on simple objects. In a couple of hours with the game engine, a beginner could write a game similar to the Asteroids classic electronic game, Nierman said.

By the end the end of the year, Wallace and Nieman plan to use the engine in senior-level computer science classes. Soon after, they hope to to use it in beginning classes, they said.

Nieman and Wallace are also working on a database of 10 lessons that professors could use to teach with the open-source engine. They also said they hope other computer science professors will add to the lesson repository so the teaching possibilities can grow.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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