Farm living is the life for them

Farmville

(Illustration by Brandan Deason)

Every day millions of Facebook users log onto their computers to plow land, plant and harvest crops, and raise livestock. Most play the farming simulation game Farmville purely for entertainment, but for a group of engineering students at S&T, it was all for a grade — and the chance to learn new approaches to solving complex engineering problems.

Students in Ivan Guardiola’s Introduction to Operations Research course spent a week last semester playing the game. Farmville rewards players for tending to their virtual crops and cattle, but these students were also learning how to make better decisions in business and engineering. Through Guardiola’s challenge, students competed to see who could earn the most money and gain the most experience.
At the start of the game, students developed plans, based on mathematical models, to achieve their goals. But many had to adjust their plans throughout the game as conditions and situations changed.
“It is up to the player to determine how much land to plow, which seeds to plant, how many seeds to plant, and when to harvest the plants,” says Guardiola, an assistant professor of engineering management and systems engineering. “Decisions were completely up to the player.”
Guardiola says the game helps students develop critical thinking and decision-making abilities because it forces them to deal with ambiguous situations.
“In engineering, we use data to make decisions, but that approach has limitations because situations are constantly changing,” he says. “So you have to assess your situation continuously and adjust accordingly.”
Research accolades
Ivan Guardiola’s research paper about his classroom project, “Using a Social Networking Game to Teach Operations Research and Management Science Fundamental Concepts,” was named co-winner of the 2011 Best Young Faculty Paper Award in the Industrial Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. His co-authors are Susan Murray, professor of engineering management and systems engineering, and Elizabeth Cudney, PhD EMgt’06, assistant professor of engineering management and systems engineering.

Around the Puck

Q&A: Miners got game

What was the most memorable sports team during your time on campus? As part of his research for the S&T 150th history book, Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, asked you to share your memories. Here are a few of your answers.

[Read More...]

Honoring new academy members

In October, 12 alumni and friends were inducted into Missouri S&T academies. Academy membership recognizes careers of distinction and invites members to share their wisdom, influence and resources with faculty and students. Some academies hold induction ceremonies in the fall, others in the spring.

[Read More...]

Boosting cyber-physical security

A wide array of complex systems that rely on computers — from public water supply systems and electric grids to chemical plants and self-driving vehicles — increasingly come under not just digital but physical attacks. Bruce McMillin, professor and interim chair of computer science at Missouri S&T, is looking to change that by developing stronger safeguards […]

[Read More...]

MXene discovery could improve energy storage

In spite of their diminutive size, 2-D titanium carbide materials known as MXenes are “quite reactive” to water, a discovery S&T researchers say could have implications for energy storage and harvesting applications such as batteries, supercapacitors and beyond. Their findings were published in 2018 in the American Chemical Society journal Inorganic Chemistry.

[Read More...]

A faster charge for electric vehicles

One drawback of electric vehicles (EVs) is the time it takes to charge them. But what if you could plug in your EV and fully charge it as quickly as it takes to fill up a conventional car with gasoline? Missouri S&T researchers, in collaboration with three private companies, are working to make speedy charging […]

[Read More...]