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Comparison of Spatial Visualization Skills in Two Approaches to Entry-Level Graphic Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Computer Modeling/CAD in Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jorge Rodriguez P.E. Western Michigan University

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Faculty member in the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing, and Management Systems (EDMMS) at Western Michigan University's (WMU). Co-Director of the Center for Integrated Design (CID), and currently the college representative to the President’s University-wide Sustainability Committee at WMU. Received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering-Design from University of Wisconsin-Madison and received an MBA from Rutgers University. His B.S. degree was in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Monterrey Tech (ITESM-Monterrey Campus). Teaches courses in CAD/CAE, Mechanical Design, Finite Element Method and Optimization. His interest are in the area of product development, topology optimization, additive manufacturing, sustainable design, and biomechanics.

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Luis Genaro Rodriguez University of Wisconsin, Waukesha

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Evaluation of Improvement on Visualization Skills with a Solid Modeling Course

Visualization has received significant attention from practitioners and researchers in fields such as education, psychology, and engineering. Visualization skills have been often linked to mental capabilities that indicate likeliness or aptitude to perform certain tasks or professions. Similarly, there are numerous reports on exercises that focus on developing visualization skills, both, for development of imagination and creativity, as well as development of competences directly related to technical fields such as engineering graphics and design. In this field of graphics and design, there has been reports about the development, and improvement/expansion, of tests such as the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test - Rotations PSVT:R, the Cutting Plane test, or the Shepard-Metzler Rotation (S-M) Test. There are as well reports on several techniques being utilized in the classrooms in order to develop such visualization skills. Just as there are reports on the applicability and usefulness of those various techniques. This report works on evaluating any possible improvement of visualization skills on a group of students that have a second course in the area of computer technical graphics. The students have taken a first-year course in their curriculum on technical graphics. This is a typical AutoCad-based course, where basically 90% of the course provides information and exercises on the use of concepts used in drafting, and the rest in used to introduce solid modeling concepts, with the use of Inventor software. A portion of those students are required to take a second course in their program that deals with solid modeling concepts. In this second course there is exposure to the integrated softwares used in industry nowadays, i.e., Siemens’ NX and Dessault Systemes CATIA. Similar content is covered in each one of these softwares, which includes: sketching, part design, drafting and assembly. The evaluation performed looks into the possible improvement of visualization skills in a group of students taking the course based on solid modeling. This evaluation includes the application of the standard PSVT:R test at two different times during the semester, once at the start of the semester, and another time at the end of the semester. This survey has been applied during the Spring’15 semester, and is being administered during the current, Fall’15 semester. Participation in the survey is completely optional, and there was no specific incentive for participation, besides the explanation indicating that this will be used to possible redefinition of course content. The test was administered during lecture time, at the end of session in the last 25 minutes, and there has been a high level of participation. Initial results show a change in the measured visualization skills of the students, with higher validity of any conclusions expected towards the end of this Fall semester, when the test will be administered again. This study is expected to provide information on the possible improvement of visualization skills in this second course in their programs. The expectation is that students will have a slight positive outcome from this course since they have been given concepts and techniques on drafting in their first course. It is expected that the level of visualization skills will be more homogeneous at the end of this second course. Final outcomes will be done in six weeks. Based on the results after administering the survey in two groups, some decisions are possible in terms on the content in the course that needs to be emphasized in order to fulfill the expected improvement and homogenization of the visualization skills of the students. Such knowledge will help in a more efficient design process, thus increasing productivity in any academic or industry endeavor.

Rodriguez, J., & Rodriguez, L. G. (2016, June), Comparison of Spatial Visualization Skills in Two Approaches to Entry-Level Graphic Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26536

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