Canadian Consulting Engineer

Engineering moves into virtual worlds

The Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario has opened a cafe on a Second Life, a virtua...

February 28, 2007   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario has opened a cafe on a Second Life, a virtual 3-D world entirely built and owned by its “residents.” Since it started in 2003, Second Life has grown to be inhabited by over four million people around the globe.
The digital world’s inhabitants are called Avatars. They buy parcels of land, develop their digital creations, and buy, sell and trade with other residents. Second Life even has its own currency : the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars.
McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering has built, “Cafe Fireball” on the Second Life to recruit engineering student applicants. The cafe is a Maroccan-style building located on the scenic shores of Info Island II. The first floor of the two-storey building is where avatars can “grab a virtual java and chat about such topics as sustainable development, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology and other engineering issues of the day.” The cafe will allow avatars to collect information about engineering programs at McMaster.
The second floor and roof are exhibit areas. They include a “difference” engine as a tribute to Charles Babbage, a Victorian mathematician who developed the blueprints for a gear-driven computer. Though never built, the machine is considered the first programmable computer devised.
There is also a podcast listening station on Cafe Fireball’s second floor where avatars can tune into Radio Fireball.
This is McMaster Universitys second established destination on Second
Life. Last fall, the Universitys library opened its virtual doors, and now offers its entire catalogue to the communitys more than three million residents.
Caf Fireball can be found on Second Life (www.secondlife.com), InfoIsland II at 235,220,35. Basic membership is free.


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