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GIFTS: Introduction to Technical Graphics and Hand Sketching Using a Tablet and Stylus

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2019 FYEE Conference


Penn State University , Pennsylvania

Publication Date

July 28, 2019

Start Date

July 28, 2019

End Date

July 30, 2019

Conference Session

T2C: GIFTS - Session C

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


William Cohen The Ohio State University

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William Cohen is a Lecturer for the Fundamentals of Engineering program at The Ohio State University: a 2 semester course sequence for first-year engineering students focusing on programming in MATLAB, computer aided drawing in SolidWorks, and a semester long Advanced Energy Vehicle design project. William has also received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Ohio State.

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The following abstract is for a GIFTS presentation:

As part of The Ohio State University’s new Digital Flagship initiative, all incoming first year students at The Ohio State University are provided with the Apple iPad Pro and Apple Pencil stylus. In an effort to utilize this technology in an introductory technical graphics course, students were given the option to use the iPad and Apple Pencil for hand sketching assignments vice the conventional pencil to paper method by importing orthographic and isometric grid paper into Notability, a note taking app provided to students as part of this initiative. The app allows students to draw with their stylus directly on the imported grid paper. Additionally, students were able to export their drawings to digital files that could be directly submitted to the class’s Learning Management System (LMS). During this trial, students provided comments through informal discussion on their experience using the iPad. An exam covering hand sketching was administered which was required to be drawn in the conventional manner using pencil on paper.

Overall, many students showed enthusiasm to using the iPads vice paper to pencil. The ability to create straight lines and circles, set different line types and colors, and easily erase lines if an error was made, resulted in much neater, professional looking drawings. This allowed students to focus less on their dexterity and ability to draw, and more on overall spatial visualization and the concepts of the orthographic and isometric projections. A major concern was that students who elected to use the iPad, would lose the opportunity to refine the motor skills necessary to sketch technical drawings by hand. However, it was observed that by providing a choice as to their sketching options, students felt empowered and were self-aware of the limitations of using the iPad. While no formal statistical analysis was performed, instructors observed no major difference in scores for those who utilized iPads and those who did not.

There are many additional benefits to working on these assignments through a digital platform. The ability to seamlessly submit assignments to the LMS reduced student stress levels and submission times, and allowed for faster and better feedback to the student. One instructor observed his teaching assistant (TA) using their own tablet to draw corrections and make notes directly on a student submission while grading. The opportunity for greater collaboration both student-to-instructor and student-to-student should be explored further.

Overall, this successful trial has led to multiple new and innovative ideas for incorporating technology into the classroom. As the data collected was from a small sample size during a short-time frame, there appears to a venue to study further. Further and longer studies are needed to determine if orthographic and isometric sketching with the iPad and Apple pencil transfer to hand-sketching requirements in the long-term. Increasing the data along with researching and utilizing iPad applications better suited for sketching are only two variables to consider. Using electronic tools built for collaboration is another option that should be explored.

Cohen, W. (2019, July), GIFTS: Introduction to Technical Graphics and Hand Sketching Using a Tablet and Stylus Paper presented at 2019 FYEE Conference , Penn State University , Pennsylvania.

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