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The Multidisciplinary Environment Of Engineering Design Graphics

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1446.1 - 12.1446.6



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Paper Authors

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Eric Hansberry Northeastern University

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Jennifer Love Northeastern University

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

The Multidisciplinary Environment of Engineering Design Graphics


The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the limitations of the current graphics curriculum and to propose methods for better preparing students entering the multidisciplinary field of engineering. A review of popular graphics textbooks shows how the historical roots of graphics in mechanical engineering results in incomplete training of today’s engineers at the multidisciplinary level. Literacy in graphics includes the ability to read the graphics dialect across the engineering disciplines, create drawings as they are applied in the field including instrument and computer drawings, and to transfer mental images to a graphic design, which is the beginning of the creative design process.


The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) sets the criteria for a broad based engineering graphics program to include: “an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams”; “an ability to communicate effectively”; and “an ability to use the techniques, skills and modern scientific and technical tools necessary for professional practice”.1 A multidisciplinary graphics program prepares the student for the fluid and global market of today. Students are also prepared for multidisciplinary communication. The EC2000 mandate that students be able to work effectively on multidisciplinary teams has generated active curricular research, and led preeminent universities such as Purdue University to create courses to build interdisciplinary connections in the students’ minds.2

By nature, graphics is a pictorial language that should be universally understood, transcending written language and the engineering disciplines. The introductory design graphics course is the ideal course to introduce the multidisciplinary concept of engineering. As evidenced in this paper, there is a significant trend in graphics courses to teach only a portion of the necessary skills to effectively communicate. Historically, institutions have supported traditional mechanical engineering graphics which inadequately prepares future engineers for the work they will encounter in complex situations that require the ability to communicate with professionals in other disciplines. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) “Job Outlook 2004”, engineering graduates have deficient communication skills and many lack a realistic view of the work place.3 With proper training in a broad-based graphics program, engineering students will be prepared to enter the multidisciplinary field of engineering capable of communicating across the disciplines, increasing efficiency and avoiding costly mistakes.

Graphic Texts Lack Multidisciplinary Approach

Many graphic courses are an outgrowth of mechanical drawing courses, tracing their origins to the industrial revolution. This is evidenced by existing and popularly used design graphic texts.

Hansberry, E., & Love, J. (2007, June), The Multidisciplinary Environment Of Engineering Design Graphics Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2119

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