PROVO — Brigham Young University civil and environmental engineering professor Rollin Hotchkiss and Brad Singley, a former graduate student, recently received recognition for this year's Best Zone Paper from the American Society of Engineering Education.

The honor comes from a paper they co-authored which examined an affordable method of bringing engineering education to developing countries by using computer simulations.

"Dr. Hotchkiss and I were looking for a way to teach a very specialized subject," said Singley, who now works as a hydraulic engineer in Seattle. "Computer-based learning seemed like the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to reach these engineers."

Many developing nations face the problem of sedimentation buildup in reservoirs which makes water stores useless, Hotchkiss said. Through his work with UNESCO, he was asked to find an inexpensive way to train engineers, technicians and students to solve sedimentation problems.

Using Adobe Flash, Singley and Hotchkiss created an interactive computer program that puts users in the shoes of an employee working at a fictional reservoir. Students collect their own data with tools found in their virtual office and then learn to apply engineering principles just as they would at an actual job site.