Asee peer logo

Mechanix: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Sketch Recognition Truss Tutoring Program against other Truss Programs

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.894.1 - 23.894.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Olufunmilola Atilola Georgia Institute of Technology


Erin M McTigue Texas A&M University

visit author page

Dr. Erin McTigue is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. She is a former K-12 teacher and her research interests include the use of graphics and visuals for learning science.

visit author page


Tracy Anne Hammond Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Director of the Sketch Recognition Lab and associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, Tracy Hammond is an international leader in sketch recognition research. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and FTO (Finance Technology Option) from MIT, and four degrees from Columbia University: an M.S. in Anthropology, an M.S. in Computer Science, a B.A. in Mathematics, and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics. Prior to joining the CSE faculty Dr. Hammond taught for five years at Columbia University and was a telecom analyst for four years at Goldman Sachs, where she designed, developed, implemented, and administers global computer telephony applications. Dr. Hammond is the PI for over $2 million in research funding. She has published over 80 papers on sketch recognition at a variety of conferences, taught several sketch recognition tutorials, organized several sketch recognition workshops, and she is currently working on a textbook with Cambridge University Press. Dr. Hammond's research focuses on human perception, sketch recognition, computer human interaction, and learning. Dr Hammond is the 2011-2012 recipient of the Charles H. Barclay, Jr. '45 Faculty Fellow Award. The Barclay Award is given to professors and associate professors who have been nominated for their overall contributions to the Engineering Program through classroom instruction, scholarly activities, and professional service.

visit author page

author page

Julie S Linsey Georgia Institute of Technology

Download Paper |


Evaluating Mechanix: A Sketch Recognition Truss Tutoring ProgramMechanix is a sketch recognition program that was developed at Texas A&M University.Mechanix provides an efficient and effective means for engineering students to learn how todraw truss free-body diagrams (FBDs) and solve truss problems. The Mechanix interface allowsfor students to sketch these FBDs, as they normally would by hand, into a tablet computer; amouse can also be used with a regular computer monitor. Mechanix is able to provide immediateand intelligent feedback to the students, and it tells them if they are missing any components ofthe FBD. The program is also able to tell students whether their solved reaction forces ormember forces are correct or not without actually providing the answers. A recent and excitingfeature of Mechanix is the creative design mode which allows students to solve open-ended trussproblems; an instructor can give their students specific minimum requirements for a truss/bridge,and the student uses Mechanix to solve and create this truss. The creative design feature ofMechanix can check if the students’ truss is structurally sound, and if it meets the minimumrequirements stated by the instructor.This paper presents a study to evaluate the effectiveness and advantages of using Mechanix inthe classroom as a supplement to traditional teaching and learning methods. Mechanix is alsotested alongside an established and popular truss program, WinTruss, to see how learning gainsdiffer and what advantages Mechanix offers over other truss analysis software. Freshmanengineering classes were recruited for this experiment and were divided into three conditions: acontrol condition (students who were not exposed to Mechanix or WinTruss and did theirassignments on paper), a Mechanix condition (students who used Mechanix in class and for theirassignments, and a WinTruss condition (students who used the WinTruss program for theirassignments). The learning gains among these three groups were evaluated using a series ofquantitative formal assessments which include a statics concepts inventory, homework sets,quizzes, exam grades and truss/bridge creative design solutions. Qualitative data was alsocollected through focus groups for all three conditions to gather the students’ impressions of theprograms for the experimental group and general teaching styles for the control group.Results from previous evaluations show Mechanix highly engages students and helps themlearning basic truss mechanics. This evaluation will be compared with previous evaluations toshow that Mechanix continues to be a great tool for enhancing student learning.

Atilola, O., & McTigue, E. M., & Hammond, T. A., & Linsey, J. S. (2013, June), Mechanix: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Sketch Recognition Truss Tutoring Program against other Truss Programs Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22279

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015