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Engineering Graphics Literacy: Spatial Visualization Ability and Students’ Ability to Model Objects from Assembly Drawing Information

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Spatial Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.548.1 - 25.548.12



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Paper Authors


Theodore J. Branoff North Carolina State University

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Theodore Branoff is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education at North Carolina State University. A member of ASEE since 1987, he has served as Chair of the Engineering Design Graphics Division of ASEE and as Associate Editor in charge of paper reviews for the Engineering Design Graphics Journal. He is currently President of the International Society for Geometry and Graphics. Branoff’s research interests include spatial visualization in undergraduate students and the effects of online instruction for preparing technology education teachers and engineers. Along with teaching courses in introductory engineering graphics, computer-aided design, descriptive geometry, and instructional design, he has conducted CAD and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing workshops for both high school teachers and local industry.

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Modris Dobelis Riga Technical University, Riga, Latvia

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Modris Dobelis is diploma engineer, graduate of Riga Polytechnic Institute, Riga, Latvia (1974), with a Ph.D in mechanical engineering from Institute of Polymer Mechanics, Riga, Latvia (1985), and a, nostrified by Riga Technical University (1992); President of International Association BALTGRAF (2002-2008); involvement in Epsilon Pi Tau, international honor society (2011); and Fulbright Scholar at NCSU, Raleigh, N.C., spring semester 2011. He has worked as CADEengineer on AP600 Project at the Westinghouse subcontractor’s company at Southern Company Services, Birmingham, Ala., (1994-1996). Currently, he is a professor and a Head of Department of Computer-aided Engineering Graphics at the Riga Technical University (Riga, Latvia). His present responsibility is education and teaching of engineering students in graphic communication, and computer-aided drafting and design.

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Engineering Graphics Literacy: Spatial Visualization Ability and Students’ Ability to Model Objects from Assembly Drawing Information  Engineering drawings are still one of the main pieces of legal documentation for product development. Interpreting these drawings is a skill needed by engineers and technicians since these documents are the primary way design information is communicated to manufacturing and quality control. Post‐secondary engineering programs, however, have reduced the amount of instructional time related to engineering graphics. More emphasis has been placed on basic modeling strategies in CAD programs, but has this come at the expense of being able to correctly read complex engineering drawings? The primary research question for this study is, “how well do current engineering and technology students read engineering drawings?” Specifically, can students take the information given on an assembly drawing, visualize or interpret each part, and then create 3D models of the parts in a constraint‐based CAD system?  During the Spring 2011 semester, a pilot study was conducted in a junior‐level constraint‐based modeling course where twenty‐nine students were asked to model as many of the seven parts given in an assembly drawing of a device within a 110 minute class period. The main purpose of this pilot study was to determine the procedures necessary for this type of assessment in a classroom setting. The parts in the assembly ranged in complexity from a ball to a valve body. Students were given a ruler to measure parts on the B‐size drawing and determine sizes of features based on the given scale (2:1). There was a positive relationship between the scores on the activity and the pace at which each student completed the parts. Only eight students modeled all seven parts in the assembly.  For the Fall 2011 semester, thirty‐five students in the same constraint‐based modeling course completed the identical modeling activity. Prior to the activity, each student completed a computer‐based version of the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test – Visualization of Rotations (PSVT:R). Scores on the PSVT:R were correlated with scores on the modeling activity. This paper will present the results of the Fall 2011 study and discuss implications for future research in the United States and in other countries. 

Branoff, T. J., & Dobelis, M. (2012, June), Engineering Graphics Literacy: Spatial Visualization Ability and Students’ Ability to Model Objects from Assembly Drawing Information Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21306

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