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Effect of Spatial Visualization on Learning Engineering Technology and Engineering Programs

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Work in Progress Postcard Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Oai Ha Western Carolina University

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Dr. Oai Ha is currently an Assistant Professor in mechanical engineering in the School of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Engineering Education, M.S. and B.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering, and an M.S. degree in Management.

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Martin L. Tanaka Western Carolina University

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Martin L. Tanaka’s interests include the development of innovative biomedical devices and the study of human dynamics and neuromuscular control. He has extensive knowledge of product design stemming from over a decade of experience designing commercial products in industry. Tanaka is a licensed professional engineer and a fellow of ASME. He earned degrees are in mechanical engineering, engineering mechanics and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. Dr. Tanaka is currently an Associate Professor at Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, North Carolina, USA ( ).

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Sudhir Kaul Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Sudhir Kaul is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Western Carolina University in North Carolina. Dr. Kaul earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 2006 and has held academic positions since 2008. His research interests include dynamic modeling for vibration isolation, motorcycle dynamics, fracture diagnostics, and engineering education. Dr. Kaul’s industry experience includes development of vibration isolation systems and the design and development of motorcycle powertrains and hydraulic systems.

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The distinction between undergraduate educational programs for engineering and engineering technology at many US institutions has led to different admission requirements for students applying to the two programs. This distinction is typically characterized by the adoption of different curricula, instructional approaches, a mix of lectures and laboratories, and textbooks. It is broadly expected that such an approach would facilitate the development of different domains of knowledge, ranging from more abstract and theoretical for engineering students to more applied and hands-on for engineering technology students. Considering the disproportionate differences in the spatial contents, tools of spatial representation, and associated spatial reasoning processes in fundamental courses such as solid mechanics or fluid dynamics, this study seeks to find a relationship, if any, between students’ spatial abilities and their learning of key concepts in solid mechanics. The performance of engineering and engineering technology students in solid mechanics has been assessed in two fundamental courses, Statics and Strength of Materials, and their spatial abilities have been measured by the revised Purdue Spatial Visualization Rotation Test and the Santa Barbara Solids Test. The preliminary data analysis of the first cohort of students reveals that the adopted spatial ability instruments are less likely to detect the difference between engineering and engineering technology in learning solid mechanics courses. Although the literature indicates that a strong spatial ability is crucial to the success of first-year engineering students, it might play a diminishing role in students’ learning as their academic seniority grows. This will be investigated in the near future by continuing the study and collecting data from different groups of students.

Ha, O., & Tanaka, M. L., & Kaul, S. (2019, June), Effect of Spatial Visualization on Learning Engineering Technology and Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32690

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