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Paper w78-2010-110:
The Virtual Construction Simulator: Evaluating an Educational Simulation Application for Teaching Construction Management Concepts

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Dragana Nikolic, Sanghoon Lee, John I. Messner, Chimay Anumba

The Virtual Construction Simulator: Evaluating an Educational Simulation Application for Teaching Construction Management Concepts

Abstract:Understanding the dynamic nature of the construction process and the ability to make important decisions about resource utilization, sequencing, site layout, and project-related risks are critical skills for design and construction engineering students. Novice students lacking experience face challenges in learning and understanding how to manage risks, cost and time tradeoffs. An evolving area of research concerns the use of educational computer simulations to enhance the learning experience.The current development initiative at the Pennsylvania State University explores the value of educational simulations in teaching construction concepts such as scheduling, site congestion, resource management and resource allocation. The Virtual Construction Simulator (VCS), an interactive simulation game currently being developed and implemented, aims to engage students in an experiential simulation environment where they develop a construction schedule and make initial decisions about construction methods, resources, and activity sequence; and subsequently enter the simulation mode where certain factors and events are triggered. Stepping though the process, students assume more active role in learning the difference between the as-planned and as-built schedule resulting from the impact of factors such as weather, congestion, learning curve, or overtime based on construction project conditions.This paper discusses the development, and the results following the first implementation of the VCS simulation game this spring within the third year introductory course to Building and Construction Management course at Penn State. The pedagogical value of the VCS simulation game in fostering engaged, motivated, and deeper learning complementing the traditional teaching methods is also discussed.

Keywords:engineering education, construction management, simulation, game theory

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