Minecraft is a popular block building game that encourages players to create complex structures in a sandbox environment, where various types of gameplay and scenarios can be explored. The Carnegie Mellon University has included Minecraft as a part of a special topics course, known as "Materials and Their Processing for Mechanical Engineers". The game is used to explain the intricacies and importance of the properties of various materials for buildings.
Genevieve Parker, one of the students says, "Minecraft has enabled me to understand materials science in a very tangible way. I loved the ability to walk around a model of a crystal structure and visualize content in three dimensions. You can't beat the interactivity that comes with a Minecraft classroom. The ability to build and be creative on homework assignments and our project motivated me to learn and kept me engaged as I did my work."
The students who take the course have to submit a final project, which is a Minecraft scenario built on the servers offered by the classroom. The students are challenged to create a game that demonstrate the principles of material science in an immersive and interactive manner. While some of the projects required the players to use advanced techniques, others built museums for crystal structures and replicas of factories that made steel. According to B. Reeja Jayan, an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering, this is the first time that the game has been integrated into a university level engineering course.