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TLIP Showcase Series

Playing Board Game to
Learn Product Life-Cycle Thinking

In response to the increase in student intake from 60 students to all Year 2 and 3 School of Engineering students in her Life-Cycle Thinking workshops, Dr. Meike Sauerwein, from Division of Environment and Sustainability, has decided to use games to scale her active learning strategies. Together with Mr. Cyril Lee from Blackbody Lab, Dr. Meike Sauerwein has developed a board game, in both physical and digital versions, to simulate the end-to-end production processes of milk, where her students strategise, practice and discuss how to balance commercial and environmental considerations when designing products in the future. 

Dr. Meike Sauerwein | ENVR

Meike Sauerwein Portrait

I was looking for some ways of making this class more interactive rather than just me standing there for one and a half hours and lecturing and having students either fade away or just doing something else while in the class so that they really get engaged

Dr. Meike Sauerwein

About the Innovation



Previously, optional ‘Life-cycle Thinking’ workshops were offered in the ENGG 2010 Engineering Seminar Series for all 2nd and 3rd year School of Engineering students. To help fulfill the HKUST2020 Sustainability Challenge, these workshops became mandatory for all ENGG 2010 students from Spring 2019 – 2022. The increase of student intake from 60 to hundreds posed a big challenge for maintaining the resource-intensive active-learning strategies used in the optional workshops.



To support higher intake as well as disrupted learning during COVID19, Meike Saurwein developed an in-print and digital game (hosted on Tabletopia) with external game designers and a research assistant. In the game, four students are milk company owners and must decide, collaborate, and compete for resources to design end-to-end milk production manufacturing processes. Students are subsequently expected to develop sustainable product lines that strike a balance between revenue and environmental impact.



The game was played across large-scale classes competitively and the ‘company’ (I.e. group) with the highest sales of milk with the most reduced environmental impact won. Initially in the game, students managed their own company by building their milk lifecycle from scratch and identifying decisions that had detrimental environmental impact. Students were then given access to improved technology and product design options that could upgrade production lines. Students subsequently learnt how to handle trade-offs such as investment cost for low-impact technologies and balancing environmental impact with market demand.

The game is available both as a board game and online version on Tabletopia. You are welcome to visit the Game Demo for more details.

Project in Action


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