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Idea Development And Communication Through Storyboards

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Innovative Techniques in Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.711.1 - 11.711.12



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Paper Authors


Judith Birchman

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Judy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts Degrees from Purdue University. A member of the Graphics Department since 1974, she has taught courses in engineering graphics fundamentals, drawing systems, CAD, electronic publishing and multimedia. Professional activities include presentations, papers and workshops on design, graphics and multimedia topics. Professor Birchman has served as both the Editor and Technical Editor of the Engineering Design Graphics Journal. As a member of the Engineering Design Graphics Division, she has held two elected positions on the executive board serving as Director of Publications and as Chair of the division.

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Mary Sadowski Purdue University

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As Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Learning, Dr. Sadowski provides leadership for strategic initiatives in undergraduate education. She serves as coordinator of accrediting activities and initiatives, scholarships, and enrollment management; and provides leadership for activities related to student services and diversity. She has been actively involved in ASEE and the Engineering Design Graphics Division and has served the division as Vice-Chair, Chair, Editor and Technical Editor of the Engineering Design Graphics Journal.

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

Idea Development and Communication through Storyboards


Storyboard creation can be an alternative way of teaching visual problem solving. Expressing a concept or idea showing action, or thinking a problem through from start to finish can be done through storyboards. The very name ‘storyboard’ implies the ability to tell a story or communicate an idea. The story can be abstract or concrete, however, it requires the student to think through the process and figure out how to present the idea. It can be serious or it can be fun, however, storyboarding asks a student to present an idea in an interesting and carefully crafted manner. This can be done with a pencil or on the computer; however, the tool is not the emphasis. The focus is on the process of developing an idea and communicating it visually.


As educators, we attempt to teach students to become problem solvers, and as graphics instructors we use a variety of complex, technical tools to help us achieve this purpose. CAD, parametric modeling, animation, 3-D modeling, web, and multimedia are now being taught in many of our classes. While not always intuitive, these packages allow us to teach students to solve complex engineering problems through graphical means.

The design process often includes brainstorming and/or multiple solutions or attempts at solutions as a part of the process. We ask engineering students who have spent their academic lives studying calculus, physics, and the like to be creative or to think on the right side of their brain. Storyboarding can be another tool for developing visual problem solving and communication skills.

Laseau describes Graphic Thinking as “thinking assisted by sketching.” He further states that graphic thinking is usually “…associated with the conceptual design stages of a project in which thinking and sketching work closely together as stimulants for developing ideas.” (Laseau, 2001) According to Barr (1999), sketching is a quick and easy way to express ideas manually. It is a natural psychomotor process of ideation in which design ideas are generated in one’s mind and expressed through the process of sketching. Sketching is a part of most engineering graphics programs and has been identified as a valuable asset in the Engineering Design Graphics curriculum (Barr, et. al. 1999, Branoff, et. al. 2001, Myers 2000, Sorby 2003).

Teamwork has also been identified as an important aspect of the Engineering Graphics curriculum (Barr (1999), Myers (2000), Smith (2003). Being able to communicate with team members in your own discipline is important, being able to communicate with team members from other disciplines may be much more important.

Birchman, J., & Sadowski, M. (2006, June), Idea Development And Communication Through Storyboards Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--990

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