Gaming on Urban Heat Islands

Project description: As global warming accelerates and urban areas continue to grow, high temperatures and extreme heat events will pose growing challenges even for historically colder cities like Boston. It is a well-known and well-documented fact that cities are warmer and heat faster than their surroundings. This phenomenon, known as the urban heat island, is caused by decreased vegetation, different thermal and reflective properties of urban materials, and the direct heat generated by human activities in cities. With further acceleration in global temperatures, cities will face amplified, adverse consequences for health, energy and water consumption. This project will lay the groundwork for the very first model that captures at the city-scale the feedback processes by which changes in natural, social and economic dynamics interact to create a city’s own urban warming problem. The model and accompanying simulation game will help us understand how policies and public behavior affect and are affected by urban warming, and the changes it brings.

Position description: We are looking for a student and preferably a team of 2 students that help us in turning the simulation model into a game environment. We prefer to have one student with art skills and another with programming skills with as a flexible start date July 1st. This project can also be done as co-op. The team consists of Profs Matthias Ruth and Casper Harteveld and Postdoc Onur Ozgun.

Contact: Prof. Casper Harteveld (