AE's Julian Rimoli asks students and faculty at ETH Zurich to "Truss Me!"

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When he unveiled Truss Me! last fall, Julian Rimoli hoped the educational app would help his Georgia Tech statics students develop a more intuitive understanding of truss behavior.

Six months and 5,000 downloads later, Rimoli has more than achieved that goal. In fact, on May 28, the AE faculty was invited to the prestigious ETH Zurich, where his “game” has been incorporated into the engineering curriculum and his thoughts on educational app design were the subject of a well-attended talk.

Capping his visit was a Truss Me! challenge, where ETH students competed against each other for the top score (and a cash prize).

Truss Me! is a tablet/smart phone app that challenges players to engineer the lightest possible “moon lander vehicle” in the shortest period of time. Players compete with the game or each other to overcome a series of 15 different challenges, each representing a real-world structural variance. Each level that the player “wins” gets him closer to attaining a “golden nut," the ultimate prize.

Rimoli’s first talk at ETH, “Mesoscale Models for Heterogeneous Ceramic Compounds under Extreme Environments,” focused on his AE research and was well-received. Students wanted to know more about his methodologies, his results, his career path. His second presentation,“Developing Mobile Educational Apps: A Teacher’s Perspective” got a little more personal.

Rimoli was only too happy to oblige.

“The students wanted to know how I went from being an academic science guy to being a game developer. But it was really the other way around,” said the Argentina native.

“So, in my presentation to them, I showed them where I grew up, pictures of my village, and then I showed them a photo of my first love that I met when I was 12…a computer.”

As a boy, Rimoli had limited access to the latest technology, so he patched together his own games using whatever electronics his family would allow him to borrow. As he grew older, this passion for computer games led him to more serious subjects, like computational physics.

“And that led me to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor.”

Students at ETH pored over the Truss Me! challenge. Check out the rest of the photosthat Dr. Rimoli sent from his trip to ETH-Zurich


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