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The Role Of Engineering Graphics As A Communications Tool For Mechanical Design: A Broader View

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Graphics Applications in ME

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1179.1 - 7.1179.8



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Paper Authors

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Holly Ault

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

Main Menu Session 2238

Engineering Design Graphics as a Communications Tool For Mechanical Design: A Broader View

Holly K. Ault, Ph.D.

Mechanical Engineering Department Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA 01609-2280


Amongst the many skills required of newly graduated engineers is the ability to clearly communicate their designs and engineering analyses using both verbal and graphical languages. The new ABET EC2000 criteria emphasize that students must have the ability to communicate effectively,1 but leave the interpretation of the outcomes that define effective communication to the individual programs. It is desirable for the students to learn these communication skills in the context of their specific disciplines; therefore, the trend has been towards integration of writing exercises through design and laboratory reports in the engineering courses in addition to their courses in the humanities component. Although much emphasis has been placed on the integration of both written reports and oral presentations into the core engineering curriculum, little has been said or done concerning the use of graphics as a communication medium. It has been said that graphics is the language of engineering.2 Writing in the humanities does not depend heavily upon graphics. Mechanical design, in particular, requires extensive use of graphics, not only conventional orthographic drawings, but also sketches, solid models, graphical representations of various analyses and experiments, prototypes, and other graphical and physical models to communicate design concepts and outcomes effectively. This paper will present a review of the use of graphics tools by students in a sophomore level introductory mechanical design course and senior design projects with a focus on the use of graphical communication techniques and physical objects to develop and communicate design concepts.


Engineering design graphics has been taught traditionally as the language of engineers.2 Graphics is recognized as an important communication tool within the engineering community. Traditional entry-level courses focus on developing students’ visualization skills through the creation of standard engineering drawings. Prior to the advent of computer-aided design (CAD), most engineering schools offered several courses in graphics and descriptive geometry. First year engineering students were required to take one or more of these graphics courses.

Recently, a trend towards removing engineering design graphics courses from the curriculum has emerged.3 This trend is driven not only by the availability of CAD software that facilitates the generation of engineering drawings, but also by pressures to include other topics in the curriculum. Furthermore, many schools have integrated graphics and CAD into other courses. In

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Ault, H. (2002, June), The Role Of Engineering Graphics As A Communications Tool For Mechanical Design: A Broader View Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10245

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