Terra Inc. is a fictional geotechnical engineering company that is part of the larger GeoExplorer Mixed Reality and Mobile (MR&M) project. This is an NSF funded project that includes the development of a game aimed at improving the learning experience of geotechnical engineering undergraduate students. It incorporates a mix of classroom sessions where the students learn about the Cone Penetration Test (CPT) and play the game simulating this field test. They make decisions in the game based on their engineering judgement and submit a report based on the data collected at virtual field sites.
The role of Terra Inc. is to serve as the virtual employer of the students (players) who work as Interns/Employees for the company. The students are given assignments to conduct site investigations in and around a virtual city. These site investigations are a necessary part of the design and execution of geotechnical projects which are contracts awarded to Terra Inc. The students receive periodic appraisal from the Design Office/Project Supervisor.
The virtual city included in the game is one dedicated to the adoption and implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and is currently employing Terra Inc on projects that are geared towards this goal. This narrative of the sustainable city helps to highlight the importance and opportunities to achieve these noble goals within geotechnical and civil engineering. It also gravitates their minds towards the creative reasoning necessary for sustainable designs of the future, and empowers students with the knowledge that they can contribute directly to making the world a better place.
The United Nations with the backing of 193 countries spearheads the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). These are a set of 17 goals the global community intends to achieve for a more sustainable future. The goals are intended to end poverty and hunger, improve health and education, make cities sustainable, combat climate change and protect oceans and forests. We believe it is the unanimous task of every person, organization and every profession to contribute directly and indirectly to the achievement of the SDGs, and geotechnical engineering is not an exception in this respect. Defined as the discipline concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials and its interaction with infrastructure, geotechnical engineering plays a direct role designing sustainable cities, protecting the environment and combating climate change.