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A New Way to Help Students Improve 3-D Visualization

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Spatial Visualization Within Engineering Design Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Dan G. Dimitriu San Antonio College

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Dan G. Dimitriu has been practicing engineering since 1970 and taught engineering courses concurrently for more than 20 years at various institutions. In 2001, he joined San Antonio College full-time as the Coordinator of its Engineering program and in 2004 he joined also the faculty at University of Texas at San Antonio as an adjunct professor. He has been involved with several engineering societies and became a member of the Two-year College Division of ASEE in 2002. His research interests are in alternative fuels, fuel cells, plastics, and engineering education.

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A New Way to Help Students Improve 3D Visualization Abstract There is ample evidence that instruction in spatial visualization skills is effective in improving outcomes for engineering students. Research conducted since the early 1990’s has proven that spatial visualization practice and training leads to better grades in engineering graphics and in most other engineering coursework. Other studies demonstrate that improved 3D visualization skills improve retention and graduation rates in general and the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented groups in particular in the field of engineering. The paper proposes a new set of exercises challenging the student to create three dimensions from two. It is a powerful and effective way to help engineering and architecture educators teach spatial visualization. Most of the 3-D visualization exercises currently being used by students in Design and Graphics classes present the objects in isometric views already in 3-D, asking the viewer to create multiple views, fold patterns, manipulate, reflect, or rotate them. The exercises presenting the objects in incomplete multiview projections asking the students to add missing lines use mostly real 3D objects that are more easily recognizable to help the student correlate 2D with 3D. This new method uses a different approach. Each view of the solid represents a letter of the alphabet. The standard multi view projections of the object present only the letter contours. The viewer must visualize the object in 3D and complete the views by adding all the missing visible, hidden, or center lines. The letters are by definition flat with 2D images and when they are combined to create the standard views of a 3D object, visualizing the object becomes quite a challenge. The paper presents the method and the results of eight years of use with demonstrated success on students with a wide variety of visualization skills.

Dimitriu, D. G. (2016, June), A New Way to Help Students Improve 3-D Visualization Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26194

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