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Sketching, Drafting, & Developing Engineering Visualization Skills

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

FPD VII: Innovative Curriculum Elements of Successful First-Year Courses

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1299.1 - 22.1299.8



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Paper Authors


Matthew A. Carr U.S. Naval Academy

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Commander, U.S. Navy
Permanent Military Professor
Nuclear Submarine Officer

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Sketching, Drafting, & Developing Engineering Visualization SkillsThe Mechanical Engineering Department of the United States Naval Academy typically enrollsbetween 80 and 130 Midshipmen into the Mechanical Engineering Major every year.Midshipmen select their choice of majors in the spring of their freshman year and thencommence courses in their major in the fall semester of their sophomore year. In the fall of 2000,recognizing the need for additional recruiting to and retention of students in science, technology,engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors, the Mechanical Engineering Department initiatedan introductory course to the Mech E major as part of that larger “freshman support” picture.This new course provides overview perspective on the whole Mechanical Engineering program,enhanced visualization skills, and introduces the design process. The overall goals have been toenhance their understanding of and enthusiasm for the Mech E major and to support retention forthose who are assimilating to a new discipline area of study. The course is run through a 16-week semester and currently is scheduled for one lecture session and two two-hourlab/workshops for a total of three credits. There is a significant project-based learning (PBL)component to the course.The visualization portion comprises approximately a third of the syllabus spread throughout thesemester. This includes a combination of hand sketching and computer-aided drafting exercisesfollowed by students manufacturing various shapes from source drawings. These 3D shapes arebuilt from inexpensive commercially available insulating foam slabs, incorporate a wide varietyof curved and planar features, and make use of a student shop wherein basic shop skills andsafety are taught. The skills they learn then culminate in the design and manufacture of mouse-trap powered vehicles for a series of competitive events. The design teams produce a designnotebook that incorporates a drafting section that traces their design ideas through construction.The final drawings are compared to their final physical product for accuracy of representation.This paper describes the scope and sequence of the visualization thread that runs through theIntroduction to Mechanical Engineering course and reports ten-year’s worth of assessment dataon the approach.

Carr, M. A. (2011, June), Sketching, Drafting, & Developing Engineering Visualization Skills Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18716

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