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The idea of So You Want To Be An Engineer came about when my brother and I were peer mentors in the fall of 2004. It is now currently in the curriculum for GE 101 classes and we hope to post a downloadable package very soon. Below is a short write-up on what we did and what we got out of the project.

The full game and rules can be viewed here: So You Want To Be An Engineer


GEU100 is a required course that all engineering majors at Northeastern University (NU) must take.  The course is an introduction to everything they will experience over the next five years from capstone to co-op.  Also every engineering student at NU does not declare a major until the beginning of their second year of school.  To help the professors in this course peer mentors are nominated based on their academics, leadership, and experience.  These peer mentors are volunteer upper-classmen engineering students of every major and year.  It is their job to convey their personal knowledge to the newer students and also to provide them with insight that the professors cannot.

The game was originally designed because it was the responsibility of the peer mentors in fall 2004 to present a lecture/presentation (PowerPoint) about the majors to their classes.  The professors wanted it to be an interactive and fun presentation.  When asked if a game would count as a presentation the professors had no problem allowing it.  SYWTBAE was then created to teach undecided undergraduate engineering students at Northeastern University about the majors available to them. 

A game like jeopardy was chosen as the best way to present information to the class.  The game was going to be created in Flash for ease of use and also the ability to play it in any web browser on campus.  The graphics were created in Photoshop to give a professional look.  The game was designed to be played in less than an hour to make sure it would be played in a single class period.  Also the class would be split into teams of 5 or 6 students each.  Each team would present their answers at the same time.  An information packet on the various majors was given to the peer mentors for their presentations.  From this packet 25 questions were made and the answer to each one is one of the engineering majors offered at NU (computer, civil, mechanical, industrial, chemical, and electrical).


Overall the game was a success. After the first run through of the game we surveyed the students and allowed them a chance to critique the game and how it was run. The students enjoyed the game and felt that it was a good alternative to a PowerPoint presentation. They also explained that they felt they had learned a good amount from the game, but would like to see more questions. Another issue was that due to the large group atmosphere it was not totally engaging for each individual student.

We also had some ideas on how to make the game better and also better ways to run the class. However, we felt that the game itself met all of our goals for conveying the information in a fun and interactive way. The game that is currently available is the second version which was produced in the Fall 2006 to add in some of these changes.

Future Work

There are several improvements to the game which could easily be implemented.  The first of these would be to use Flash to make sure that once the students picked a question it would be crossed out on the game board.  This is so that the teams know which questions were already picked and were not.  There were a few problems with the packet that was used to make all the questions.  The first was that some of the information was not very helpful and that lead to ambiguous questions.  Also updating some of the questions with more up to date information is an important change.  Lastly, a very important part of picking a major can be what jobs are available for co-op.  It is recommended that a co-op category be added to the game that presents information about what students can expect to do on co-op and where they can expect to work.   

:: contact: seth at sethsivak dot com ::