Playing video games may sound like something students do when they are procrastinating, but for students in Dr. Aldo McLean’s class, the games were an integral part of a class experiment.

Dr. Aldo McLean talks to students before the simulation exercise

McLean, Assistant Professor of Engineering Management, was curious to discover if a final score from a football game could be predicted from playing several simulated games using a Microsoft XBox. Gathering his class of students, which included several UTC football players, McLean and the class conducted his analysis on one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship.

Student chose to play the game as either Georgia or Alabama. They turned the Maytag Conference Room in the EMCS building into a makeshift dorm room complete with flat screen TVs, several XBoxes, snacks, and drinks.

Though their statistical analysis pegged Georgia as the victor, the students had an eerily similar score up to the final quarter.

“Many interesting similarities happened between the game and our simulation.  We had Georgia scoring 27 points, and they finished with 28.  Also, we got an unusual 18 points for Alabama, which we changed to 17 because is unlikely to have 18 in a football game. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the score was 21-18, close to our observations,” McLean said.

McLean’s ultimate goal was to provide students with a fun learning opportunity.

“Predicting the game is extremely difficult based upon the large number of variables. It’s like trying to predict the presidential election with only 10 or less votes. I wanted promote interest within students and motivate them to understand tools for analysis. Therefore, the results are only observation and a fun way to link current issues and academia,” McLean said.

McLean plans to continue his research, perhaps with the upcoming Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game or even games closer to home.

“Next time, we can identify better tools to measure the outcomes and perhaps request collaboration with some other departments. We hope we can simulate Mocs football or basketball games during the season too,” he said.

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