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Enhancing 3-D Spatial Skills of Engineering Students Using Augmented Reality

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Technical Session 1: Topics Related to Engineering - Part 1

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Ali Sheharyar Texas A&M University at Qatar

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Ali Sheharyar is the scientific visualization analyst at Texas A&M University at Qatar. Ali received his B.S. degree in Computer Science from National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences in Pakistan in 2004 and his M.S. degree in Computing from Qatar University in 2015. Ali’s professional interests involve scientific data visualization, 3d computer graphics, and applications of emerging technologies in teaching and research. Ali is currently working on virtual and augmented reality technologies to support the research and teaching applications.

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Arun R. Srinivasa Texas A&M University

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Dr Arun Srinivasa is the Holdredge/Paul Professor and associate department head of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University and has been with TAMU since 1997. Prior to that he was a faculty at University of Pittsburgh. He received his undergraduate in mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India in 1986 and subsequently his PhD from University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include continuum mechanics and thermodynamics, simulations of materials processing, and smart materials modeling and design. His teaching interests include the use of technology for education, especially in the area of engineering mechanics and in effective teaching methodologies and their impact on student progress in mechanical engineering.

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Eyad Masad

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Dr. Masad is a Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar. His main areas of expertise are materials engineering, mechanics and teaching pedagogy.

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3D spatial visualization and reasoning skills are of great importance for success in a number of technical fields. For engineering, the ability to examine, manipulate, rotate or twist three-dimensional models in space is of particular interest. Students differ in their development of spatial skills, and this difference affects their performance on some spatial tasks. Instructors involved in teaching the statics and mechanics courses at Texas A&M University at Qatar noticed that some students have challenges in comprehending three-dimensional (3D) technical figures as they presented in engineering textbooks. Consequently, this challenge may lead to limiting in-class instruction and discussion of 3D problems, especially those with vectors representing different physical forces.

To help students in understanding these 3D representations and to enhance their spatial skills, we employed the Augmented Reality (AR) technology that enables overlaying 3D figures onto the corresponding 2D figures through a smartphone or a tablet. The students can freely explore the 3D figure from various angles by either moving the book or the device itself. We converted some figures in the textbook used in teaching the Statics subject, which is part of the MEEN 225 Engineering Mechanics course at Texas A&M University. We shared the AR tool in the classroom with students in class and asked them to solve a problem in both 2D (using only book) and 3D (using AR tool). In this paper, we demonstrate the AR tool and share our experience and the assessment results.

Sheharyar, A., & Srinivasa, A. R., & Masad, E. (2020, June), Enhancing 3-D Spatial Skills of Engineering Students Using Augmented Reality Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34568

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