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Graphics: Into The 21 St Century

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Graphics and Visualization

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.792.1 - 12.792.17



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Paper Authors

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La Verne Abe Harris Arizona State University

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Frederick Meyers The Ohio State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Graphics: Into the 21st Century


Graphical plans for construction of machinery and architecture have evolved over the last 6,000 years beginning from hieroglyphics to drawings on printable media, from the “Golden Age” of engineering graphics to the innovation of computer graphics and prototyping. The evolution of engineering design graphics as a profession has also evolved. Years before we entered the 21st century, higher education began to address the changes that technology brought to the curriculum. Now that we have entered the 21st century, we must move forward with technological innovations and creative thinking, but be cautious that we do not lose the art of freehand sketching. This paper traces the journey of engineering design graphics and the impact it has had in the academe and on the profession and the way designers work. It addresses the future of the field and the inevitable changes that emerging technologies will bring.


Whether an idea is scratched on stone or comes in the form of freehand sketching on a napkin, visualization in engineering design is paramount. The ability to accurately perceive the visual- spatial world and transform these perceptions is one of the eight human intelligencesi. Basic spatial skills, which are necessary for success in engineering design, are based on the ability to "mentally manipulate, rotate, twist, or invert pictorially presented visual stimuli."ii The creative thinking team process of brain-writing, where the primary mode of communication is freehand sketching, is a popular alternative to the verbal brainstorming technique today.iii

Nothing has had more of an impact on the ability to transform visual-spatial perceptions and the evolution of graphical plans for construction of machinery and architecture than the computer and the Internet. The advent of the computer and the invention and innovation of computer-aided design (CAD) deeply changes how two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) graphics are visualized and designed. CAD, which is the use of a wide-range of computer-based tools for designing and developing products, is an important geometry-authoring tool for the product lifecycle management. It ranges from 2D vector-based drafting systems to 3D parametric surface and solid design modeling systems. In the product lifecycle a physical prototype can be produced from drawings or from a computer-aided manufacturing system (CAM). The prototype is then tested for design compliance and produced for mass production in the manufacturing division.

When Internet technologies were adopted in the engineering design industry in the 1990's, work in engineering design was restructured. Collaboration is the trend of today in order to benefit both higher education and industry and the Internet facilitates international communication. However, when we move forward into the 21st century with more technological innovations, we must ensure that we take with us the art of freehand sketching as a valuable tool for the visualization process.

Harris, L. V. A., & Meyers, F. (2007, June), Graphics: Into The 21 St Century Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1646

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