Science and Technology wing recreated in Minecraft

Introducing students to their new faculty in real time ... from afar


Photo of Mount Royal University east gate in Minecraft.

The project combined computer skills with the creativity that abounds on Mount Royal’s campus, resulting in an experience for incoming students to learn about the area they will eventually be able to return to in person.


To help familiarize new students with the Faculty of Science and Technology, two Bachelor of Computer Information Systems (BCIS) students worked throughout the summer to recreate Mount Royal’s B-wing in Minecraft.

Minecraft is a popular video game world where players use “blocks” to build virtually anything they want. In this case, the task was to populate the Minecraft world with a scale model of the Faculty of Science and Technology for students to be able to take part in a virtual tour, allowing them to feel as though they are on campus and even interact with their professors.

The B-wing is the home of all science and technology programs at Mount Royal (as well as the Department of Sociology and Anthropology), and can be notoriously difficult to navigate at first. The project was meant to accustom students with what will eventually be their home-away-from-home and to introduce them to their partners in learning.

“As part of our planning for a very unique fall semester, we were keen to find ways to expose students to their new university surroundings, knowing that they would be learning remotely,” says the dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Jonathan Withey, DPhil.

Third-year and fifth-year BCIS students Nahuel Paladino and Max Tiblenko led a team of student volunteers through the Minecraft development process, gathering requirements by interviewing faculty and surveying focus groups of students. The pair received work experience credit for their efforts throughout the summer.

“It turned out to be a massive learning experience, from interviewing faculty to creating a world in Minecraft — which none of us had done before — so I learned so much and had a lot of fun,” Paladino says.


Photo of the chemistry and physics study area in minecraft.

The B-Wing is the home of all science and technology programs at Mount Royal, and can be notoriously difficult to navigate at first.


A YouTube walkthrough led by Paladino gives viewers a look at the experience from the creators’ perspective.

“We want students to get a feel for the space and learn where the important locations are,” Tiblenko says. “However, we also want them to make connections, which is very important because they can’t be on campus. They can’t meet their peers and they’ll need those connections with other students and faculty to succeed.”

As students traverse the B-wing virtually, they can unlock achievements by completing challenges throughout the tour. Called “advancements” in Minecraft, Paladino and Tiblenko curated a list of 20 custom achievements for students, such as successfully finding the dean’s or their advisors’ offices.

Adding to the challenges and experience are six additional “Easter eggs,” as Paladino calls them.

“At the end of one you get a diamond helmet,” Paladino says. “We wanted to make it fun in a way that gives them prizes for participating and engaging with other students. We’re hoping that they team up to complete all the achievements and help each other and connect.”

“What our Minecraft team produced has blown us all away,” Withey says. “The feel, interactivity, and quirkiness are fantastic, and I hope that once our students are able to come onto campus they will realize just how authentic the Minecraft world is.

“I’ve been spending some time hanging out in my virtual office, and have interacted with several students who have stopped by. It’s a tremendous amount of fun.”

BCIS associate professor Namrata Khemka-Dolan was the project’s supervisor and helped the students significantly as they worked through the challenges of creating a real-world space virtually. Throughout the summer the project received a lot of enthusiastic support from faculty members.

“All three of us are very thankful for the faculty and staff,” Khemka-Dolan says. “ We are grateful for their support because their assistance has been really instrumental for us to get this done."

There is even the potential for an expansion of the project to include more areas of the campus.

“That’s something we’ve talked about since the beginning,” Tiblenko says. “We're discussing it and just trying to make it an experience that includes other faculties.”

This project combined computer skills with the creativity that abounds on Mount Royal’s campus, resulting in an experience for incoming students to learn about the area they will eventually be able to return to in person.

Take the YouTube walkthrough and discover the B-Wing in Minecraft.

Sept. 8, 2020 — Zach Worden

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