College Professor Uses Tears of the Kingdom to Engage Students in Engineering Education

Link’s new abilities in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allow players to create all sorts of devices, including functional computers and even flamethrowing contraptions! In a surprising twist, a college professor is using TotK’s mechanics and physics engine to educate students about engineering and robotics.

Spotted on the Nintendo Switch subreddit, Ryan Sochol, an associate professor at the University of Maryland, has incorporated the popular game into a class titled “The Legend of Zelda: A link to Machine Design”. The course utilizes various aspects of the game, including its physics and Rune abilities, to provide students with a unique window into the world of robotics and machine construction. This innovative approach to teaching has garnered significant interest from students, resulting in more sign-ups than anticipated.

The way the course works is truly interesting. Students are divided into teams and provided with a Nintendo Switch and a physical copy of Tears of the Kingdom to work on various in-game challenges. The class culminates in a design challenge, where students have to prototype and construct an amphibious robotic vehicle for an in-class race.

This approach is not only exciting but also cost-effective, as students are able to learn complementary CAD skills without having to invest in expensive software. In fact, instead of traditional software licenses that can cost thousands of dollars annually, Sochol was able to purchase all the necessary equipment for the class for less than $3,000.

As the class approaches its conclusion, Sochol is optimistic about its potential and plans to expand and adapt the curriculum for future semesters. His goal is to inspire other colleges to offer similar classes, ultimately making this type of gamified education more accessible and widespread. With the success of Tears of the Kingdom, which has sold nearly 20 million units since its launch, Sochol hopes that other developers will follow suit and create more educational video games.

Overall, Sochol’s innovative approach to teaching engineering with the help of a popular video game is proof that the medium is capable of much more than we realize. And in case you’re wondering, Sochol’s favorite Zelda game is Ocarina of Time—classic!


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