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Incorporation Of A 3 D Interactive Graphics Programming Language Into An Introductory Engineering Course

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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

Programming for Engineering Students

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.748.1 - 10.748.11



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Paper Authors

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Kishore Sirvole

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Jennifer Mullins

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Jeff Kaeli

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Jason Snook

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Hayden Griffin

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Vinod Lohani

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Jenny Lo

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

Incorporation of a 3D Interactive Graphics Programming Language into an Introductory Engineering Course

Jason Snook1, Vinod Lohani2, Jenny Lo2, Kishore Sirvole3, Jennifer Mullins4, Jeff Kaeli5, Hayden Griffin2 1 Department of Computer Science, 2Department of Engineering Education, 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 4Department of Curriculum and Instruction, 5 Department of Mechanical Engineering Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 24061-0106 USA


Details of introduction of a 3D interactive graphics programming language (i.e., Alice) into an introductory engineering course (called “Engineering Exploration”) at Virginia Tech are presented. The Alice system, provided freely ( as a public service by Carnegie Mellon University, provides a completely new approach to learning programming concepts. This is the FIRST large scale deployment of Alice (1260 engineering freshmen learnt it in fall 2004) in an introductory engineering course. One particularly challenging aspect of this was implementing mathematics into the Alice problem specifications. Two examples of simulating the Solar System and projectile motion of an object using Alice are briefly discussed. Qualitative analysis of instructor and student experiences are discussed along with quantitative survey results to measure the relative success of this initial endeavor.


Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering (COE) is the sixth largest US engineering program in terms of bachelor’s degrees awarded in 20021. All freshman engineering students at Virginia Tech undergo a common first year General Engineering (GE) curriculum developed by the Department of Engineering Education (EngE). The GE curriculum is undergoing major changes primarily due to two reasons: i) Recent addition of Computer Science(CS) into the COE, ii) More emphasis on engineering education research targeted at improving engineering pedagogy in the COE.

This paper will present the details of changes made to one of the introductory engineering courses (called “Engineering Exploration” or EngE 1024) in GE curriculum with particular reference to programming instruction, which constitutes about one-third of the course. In consultation with faculty members from CS and other engineering departments, the EngE faculty decided to introduce an object-oriented programming language called Alice into EngE 1024.

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

Sirvole, K., & Mullins, J., & Kaeli, J., & Snook, J., & Griffin, H., & Lohani, V., & Lo, J. (2005, June), Incorporation Of A 3 D Interactive Graphics Programming Language Into An Introductory Engineering Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14454

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