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Incorporating Assignments To Develop Hand Sketching Skills In The Civil Engineering Technology Curriculum

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Curriculum in Civil Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.717.1 - 14.717.15



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Paper Authors

author page

Andrew Rose University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

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

Incorporating Assignments to Develop Hand Sketching Skills in the Civil Engineering Technology Curriculum

Abstract Even with today’s technological advances, hand sketching is still an important communication skill in civil engineering practice. To communicate effectively, civil engineers may need to quickly prepare hand-drawn sketches to document a given problem, communicate ideas during a meeting or to convey important information to colleagues. Unfortunately, at many schools, the emphasis on drawing skills has focused on computer aided drafting and design (CADD), at the expense of hand sketching. The result is unsatisfactory and sloppy sketching by civil engineering and civil engineering technology students and graduates. Although many engineering drawing courses no longer emphasize hand sketching, engineering educators can still provide opportunities for students to develop and practice hand sketching skills. This paper presents suggestions for incorporating hand sketching assignments in the undergraduate civil engineering technology curriculum and provides assessment results for several sketching exercises used by the author.

Introduction Hand-drawn sketches have traditionally been an important part of professional engineering practice. Sketching site conditions and layout during field reconnaissance, drawing free body diagrams for structural analysis, and preparing cross-sections and details from structural design calculations are common activities performed by civil engineers. Unfortunately, today’s students are often not given adequate opportunities to develop hand sketching skills. In addition, the technologically savvy students of today are more comfortable using computer technology and digital cameras in the preparation of drawings and reports. While proficiency with CAD drawing software, MS Powerpoint,™ and digital cameras are important in engineering practice, hand sketching skills are still an appropriate and important communication tool. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recognizes that the ability to communicate effectively is a required outcome for civil engineering education, noting that in addition to written and oral communication skills, graphical communication is also important when interacting with technical and non-technical individuals.1

Importance and Use of Hand-Drawn Sketches Kivett2 notes free-hand sketching can quickly convey technical information to diverse audiences. At public meetings for proposed projects, clients often prefer free-hand architectural sketches rather than CAD drawings since hand-drawn sketches imply the design is not set in stone, whereas the public may perceive the project as unalterable when CAD drawings are used.2

According to Carrato and Kellogg,3 although CAD drawings are used extensively in structural engineering, free-hand sketches are still used as part of the structural design process and are essential in communicating with drafting and construction personnel. Many new structural engineering graduates lack skill in preparing hand-drawn sketches and require guidance from senior engineers to develop good graphical communication skills.3

Rose, A. (2009, June), Incorporating Assignments To Develop Hand Sketching Skills In The Civil Engineering Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5249

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