Lean Inc.

A teaching tool for the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky Department of Engineering

Bluegrass Lean Inc. is a game that was designed as a tool for the University of Kentucky’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to use as a more dynamic substitute for a physical lab when teaching the modern practices for efficiency and safety in a production factory. This tool allows instructors to spend more time teaching a lesson instead of setting up and breaking down lab equipment.

In the creation of Bluegrass Lean Inc., I concentrated on curriculum integration, UI, designing and implementing production line systems, and minor AI programming.

Ensuring that the game mechanics harmonized with the course curriculum required me to digest the course material myself.  I worked very closely with the professor and associate professor that would be teaching the course to be certain that it fit their needs and that the information portrayed was accurate to real-life scenarios. This was particularly helpful when constructing the lessons that would appear earlier in the semester, which emphasize key failings in an inefficient warehouse.

The UI of Bluegrass Lean Inc. evolves throughout the semester to reflect improvements in the production line of the simulated factory. In the first few simulations, the UI is intentionally harder to use. Elements are made difficult to read by including more than the necessary amount of options, obfuscating the purpose of the different groups of UI elements, and visually blending the UI elements to resemble each other. Later simulations present a much more pleasant UI that is substantially easier to use: elements are color coded, their purpose is clear, and there are overall fewer UI elements to interact with (partly due to changes within the factory setup requiring less from any individual factory worker).

Because the interface and the factory practices change so significantly throughout the different scenarios, it was paramount that the back-end construction was dynamic enough to respond to these changes. To fit this, I created a generic system that allows the various workstations to operate on the simple flow of receiving an item from a “widget,” processing that widget, and then outputting that widget. This system is quite extensible to accommodate for the current and future teaching needs.

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