Biological Systems Engineering


First Advisor

Jenny Keshwani

Second Advisor

Ashu Guru

Date of this Version



Rice, N. (2018). Developing serious games in engineering education: Innovation at the nexus of food, energy, and water systems (Master's Thesis). Retrieved from Digital Commons.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Jenny Keshwani and Professor Ashu Guru. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2018.

Copyright (c) 2018 Nathan Rice


At a time when food, energy, and water (FEW) are of the utmost concern to the security and health of the world, an initiative has begun to understand the interactions between these systems. The goal of Innovation at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) is to bring together research fields that typically work in their own silos to solve complex problems increasing the resiliency and sustainability of the FEW system. Stemming from this initiative was a project to produce an educational immersive simulation game to teach youth about how their food is produced, systems thinking, and sustainable agriculture. The following thesis investigates the current progress of this project with a focus on the development and implementation of serious games to provide youth a scientifically authentic environment to understand the complexities of the FEW system. The Corn-Water-Ethanol-Beef (CWEB) system in the United States Midwest was selected as the exemplary model for this investigation. The objectives of the thesis are: (1) develop a theoretical framework for integrating scientific models into serious educational game design, (2) implement a game-based learning strategy in the classroom and compare to a traditional educational approach, (3) explore the use the systems thinking instrument designed by Evagorou et al., (2009) with college age students and make adjustments to its design to measure students’ capacity for systems thinking, and (4) identify future areas of research for progressing the INFEWS initiative through serious educational games.

Advisors: Jenny Keshwani and Ashu Guru