As It Reaches Visitor Milestone, Unveils New Features

New games, improved search engine, and information about engineering careers among offerings

8 March 2010 has hit a major milestone: more than 5 million visitors in 2009, almost 1 million more than in 2008. The Web site, which introduces students, teachers, and parents to engineering, also recently added several features, including a design game, a better search engine for finding lesson plans, and a section that focuses on engineering careers. IEEE Educational Activities launched the site in 2005 with the New York Hall of Science and IBM.

The new game, called the Bionic Arm Design Challenge, teaches students and others about bioengineering. Other games on the site include roller-coaster design and a game that demonstrates how raw materials can be transformed into everyday products.

A bionic arm has many features of a human arm, including muscles, a skeleton, and a nervous system. Players learn about bioengineering, robotics, and electronics by assembling the arm’s simulated components. They choose from an array of muscles, hands, and materials while taking a virtual budget into account. Then their design is tested for dexterity, strength, and range of motion. For example, in a dexterity exercise, the game simulates the arm reaching for a brick, picking it up, and placing it on a wall.

The improved search engine can find lesson plans on the site more easily. Eight new plans have been added, bringing the total to 71. One of the new ones, “Nano Waterproofing," focuses on the impact of nanotechnology on the design and engineering of waterproofed items. Another, “Working With Wind Energy," explores how electricity can be generated from wind on small and large scales. Teams design and build a windmill out of paper clips and other common objects.

To help students learn what it’s like to be a practicing engineer, a new Life of an Engineer section (under the Explore Engineering header) spotlights professionals and students who discuss their careers and educational background.

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