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Hands On Graphics Communications – Designing Commercial Properties In An Introductory Course: Innovative Teaching Strategies For Success

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Teaching Strategies in Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.681.1 - 10.681.8



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Paper Authors

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David Cottrell

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

Session 3438

Hands-On Graphics Communications – Designing Commercial Properties in an Introductory Course: Innovative Teaching Strategies for Success

David S. Cottrell Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg


This paper describes the integration of design projects during the Fall Semester, 2004, into the curriculum of an introductory graphics communications course at Penn State University at Harrisburg. These projects served a double purpose of reinforcing topics taught in the classroom as well as introducing students to the engineering design process with their first hands-on design experience. In particular, this article features ET 200, “Graphic Communications,” a three-credit course taken by all students in the Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology Program, generally during the fall semester of their junior year. The course content is conventional and develops basic skills in the student aimed at reading and interpreting commercial and residential construction drawings. For most students, ET 200 is their first engineering course with the potential for a design component. These design projects presented in this paper were developed and implemented with specific objectives in mind:

• To stimulate interest in engineering and design; • To provide the user with an opportunity to perform a legitimate design based on realistic design specifications and constraints; • To introduce the student to various aspects of architectural as well as structural engineering fundamentals.

With the scenario and content of each project keyed to the block of instruction being taught at the time, the design projects effectively highlighted and reinforced course topics taught throughout the semester. The projects themselves were structured to include – at the elemental level – all of the fundamental aspects of design as defined in the ABET accreditation criteria. The projects are based on real-world scenarios; they are open- ended, permitting many possible solutions; and they require formulation of problem- solving methodologies as well consideration of alternatives and economic concerns relating to the finished project.

In the paragraphs below, the author describes two actual design projects included in the most recent offering of ET 200, “Graphic Communications.” The first project challenged the student to develop three alternative design proposals responding to a well- defined scope for a relatively small scale commercial constructive endeavor. Students

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Cottrell, D. (2005, June), Hands On Graphics Communications – Designing Commercial Properties In An Introductory Course: Innovative Teaching Strategies For Success Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14498

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