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The Art Of Design Modeling – Teaching Freshmen Graphics Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Teaching Strategies in Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1202.1 - 13.1202.10



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Paper Authors

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Sridhar Condoor Saint Louis University, Parks College of Eng.

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Lawrence Boyer Saint Louis University

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Sanjay Jayaram Saint Louis University, Parks College of Eng.

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

The Art of Design Modeling – Teaching Freshmen Graphics Course In the last decade, several engineering schools have introduced feature-based, parametric solid modeling as a part of the Engineering Graphics course in the freshmen year. This new technology made the traditional methods of teaching engineering graphics obsolete. However, a review of the graphics and CAD books reveals that modeling is characterized as a very systematic process with definitive outcome. In our pedagogy for teaching solid modeling, students explore and design mundane as well as novel objects as a part of open-ended projects. While the use of open-ended projects is not novel, our emphasis is on being creative and systematic. While technology and value are not discussed in detail, the need for style is emphasized in the course. The students build upon the existing designs by morphing them to create new ones. During this process, creativity and exploration play a crucial role in the outcome. The students are highly motivated as they model objects that interest them. In the process, they not only master the solid modeling skills but develop their own unique artistic style. The paper presents several examples of student designs, and provides a framework for teaching modeling.

I. Introduction

Visual thinking is one of the distinguishing characteristics of an engineer. At a mundane level, it is useful for documenting ideas, representing designs, and communicating them to others. At a more fundamental level, it helps in reasoning about ideas and designs. For instance, designers use visual thinking to reason about stress, strain, fluid-flow, electric, and magnetic fields. Recognizing the importance of visual thinking as a means of communication and a tool for reasoning, educators have incorporated visual thinking throughout the engineering curriculum.

Engineering graphics has been at the heart of engineering curriculum. Until recently, in most schools, it was the only "engineering" course taught in the freshmen year. Traditionally, the course has been structured around the orthographic projections. Along with the evolution of computers, the course content moved from pure manual drawing to a combination of manual drawing and computer aided drawing using 2D CAD packages, such as AutoCAD. This shift from manual drawing to 2D CAD packages was relatively minor, in academic terms, as underlying philosophy, i.e. the orthographic projections, is the same. Students learned a few new techniques such as pattern and mirror. These techniques accelerated the drawing process and have NOT changed the design process. Note that these traditional graphics courses have a strong bias towards Mechanical Engineering which often resulted in incomplete training for the graduates1.

In the last decade, many schools have integrated the feature-based, parametric solid modeling technology into the course curriculum. To encourage the integration, several solid modeling packages, such as ProEngineer, SolidWorks, CATIA, and UniGraphics, are academically priced. Most books reacted to this technology by adding a chapter or two on this new technology. Some books primarily focused their attention on teaching the software with no consideration to the theory. A disjoint approach to the theory (orthographic projections) and the practice (solid modeling) of graphics created confusion in students.

Condoor, S., & Boyer, L., & Jayaram, S. (2008, June), The Art Of Design Modeling – Teaching Freshmen Graphics Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4178

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