Using Minecraft to create the next generation of engineers

Amidst the turmoil the current pandemic Enginuity, a software-based engineering education and training company, has released their newest offering, Skills Miner, to arguably the best captive audience in history.

Since schools closed on the 20th of March, many teachers and parents must surely have felt somewhat left in the dark when it comes to what meaningful and accessible learning resources they should be providing for their children. Cue Skills Miner, the engineering-based puzzle mode for Minecraft, one of the most popular games in the world today.

I remember fondly being 13 and logging into the blocky world of Minecraft for the first time. Little did I know then the impact it would have on the world. Nearly ten years later, the game stands as the best-selling video game of all time, with nearly 200,000,000 units purchased worldwide.

The significance of this monumental achievement is that Minecraft presents an incredibly accessible platform for millions of children from around the world. The game can run on a phone, tablet, Xbox, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch; if a device supports video games, it’s safe to say that Minecraft is playable on it.

Enter, Enginuity. The goal of their new Minecraft-based talent scheme is to unearth some of the latent talent in school kids from around the world and introduce them to the idea of engineering through a fun and – even more importantly – rewarding game.

The game mode is free to download, provided you already own Minecraft – which many school kids already do – and can be played on any device that runs the game. It comprises a plethora of levels designed to test the players problem solving, reasoning, construction, and engineering skills in a manner of different ways.

It then uses a series of algorithms to assess players’ cerebral and dextral strengths, depending on how long it takes them to complete certain tasks. The eventual idea is to offer bursaries and guidance on career paths to those players that show the most promise.

Remote working and remote learning seem to be trends that will need to stick around a while longer, so it’s nice to see an initiative such as this that really plays to the strengths of the technology available. 

The launch has certainly come at a good time. Despite the glorious weather in this country, and despite some notable exceptions of people in power, the advice is largely to stay inside. What better time could there be to tuck into some blocky engineering puzzles from the comfort of your own home?

Players of the game, which is based on Minecraft and aimed at players of all ages, will be guided to various levels, given assessments of their cerebral and dexterity strengths – then given a call to action to help them make an appropriate move through the gateway from the virtual to the real world.

By Rebecca Garland on 29/05/2020