Implementation of Game-Based Programming as a Means to Engage and Excite Students in First-Year Engineering Courses

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Engineering Fundamentals


Today’s first-year college engineering students are no strangers to spending large amounts of time in the online environment. Social media and gaming have been found to be an arena where multitudes of students enjoy spending hours meeting, developing online social circles, and participating in interactive gaming with others around the world. In our first-year engineering program, we find a student that is very eager to engage in their college career, but one that may not know the many aspects that each engineering discipline has to offer. With roughly 1,000 incoming engineering students at Michigan Technological University, we find that many students can easily become disinterested by the programming heavy nature of our first-year curriculum. Keeping these students challenged, engaged and proud of their accomplishments while looking forward to their next year of college is of paramount importance. Programming courses in particular pose a distinct challenge to the instructor, as many students may consider them to be dry and uninspiring. With students in this age bracket so closely acquainted with the technology found in the online world, why not leverage this as a means to bring game-oriented programming into their first-year programming classes? In this paper, we assert that by incorporating game design into first-year engineering programming courses, we keep the student excited about their coursework, keep them challenged by their assignments, and give them a programming experience where they can look back on their final product with pride and a sense of accomplishment.During the first-year engineering experience, it is essential that students exhibit a positive, playful mindset in order to maintain engagement in their classes. With first-year students being very familiar with gaming and the online arena, this paper posits the implementation of game design into their first-year programming courses as a means to elicit excitement and intrigue. In this study, we take a look at three aspects of implementing game-based programming assignments into the engineering curriculum. First, we look at the excitement generated and eagerness to sign up for a class that advertises game programming. Next, we assess to what level the students become and stay engaged when immersed in challenging problems associated with game-based programming. Lastly, we examine the students’ assessment of their programming. and their opinions of how game programming affected their learning in an entry level engineering programming class.

Publication Title

2022 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)