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Using Natural Sketch Recognition Software to Provide Instant Feedback on Statics Homework (Truss Free Body Diagrams): Assessment of a Classroom Pilot

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Computer Tutors, Simulation, and Videos

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1671.1 - 26.1671.12



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Paper Authors


Matthew G. Green LeTourneau University

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Dr. Matthew G. Green is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at LeTourneau University-Longview. His objective is to practice and promote engineering as a serving profession. His focus includes remote power generation, design methods for frontier environments, enhanced engineering learning, and assistive devices for persons with disabilities.

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Benjamin W. Caldwell LeTourneau University

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Benjamin Caldwell is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at LeTourneau University. He earned his B.S. (2007), M.S. (2009), and Ph.D. (2011) degrees from Clemson University, each in Mechanical Engineering, where his experiences were in the area of engineering design. Dr. Caldwell’s research interests include validation of design methods, design creativity, and teaching effectiveness. Prior to working at LeTourneau University, Dr. Caldwell’s research experiences included the development of design methods for lightweight systems (BMW Manufacturing Co.) and modeling the functionality and interactions of mechanical systems to support conceptual design (National Science Foundation). Among other awards, Dr. Caldwell received the Graduate Teaching Fellowship from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Departmental Doctoral and Masters Awards in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University, and the R.C. Edwards Graduate Recruiting Fellowship from Clemson University. Dr. Caldwell is a member of ASME and Pi Tau Sigma.

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Michael Helms Georgia Institute of Technology


Julie S. Linsey Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Julie S. Linsey is an Assistant Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technological. Dr. Linsey received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas. Her research area is design cognition including systematic methods and tools for innovative design with a particular focus on concept generation and design-by-analogy. Her research seeks to understand designers’ cognitive processes with the goal of creating better tools and approaches to enhance engineering design. She has authored over 100 technical publications including twenty-three journal papers, five book chapters, and she holds two patents.

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Tracy Anne Hammond Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Director of the Sketch Recognition Lab and Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, Dr. Hammond is an international leader in sketch recognition, haptics, intelligent fabrics, SmartPhone development, and computer human interaction research. Dr. Hammond’s publications on the subjects are widely cited and have well over a thousand citations, with Dr. Hammond having an h-index of 16, an h10-index of 26, and four papers with over 100 citations each. Her research has been funded by NSF, DARPA, Google, and many others, totaling over 3.6 million dollars in peer reviewed funding. She holds a PhD 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 TAMU CSE faculty Dr. Hammond taught for five years at Columbia University and was a telecom analyst for four years at Goldman Sachs. 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.

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Using Natural Sketch Recognition Software to Provide Instant Feedback on Statics Homework: Assessment of a Classroom PilotDespite the importance of hand-sketched Free Body Diagrams for engineering education andpractice, large class sizes often prevent detailed feedback on such diagrams. Relatively recentlycomputing technology has become powerful enough to enable rapid and plentiful feedback onhand-sketched engineering diagrams. Researchers have recently developed the free “Mechanix”sketch recognition tutoring system for free body diagrams (FBDs) and trusses which providesintelligent and immediate feedback.This paper will describe the process and results of piloting this software at a primarilyundergraduate university with approximately 40 students enrolled in a Statics class, contrastedwith a control group. Results will include attitudes towards technology, online homeworkscores, test scores, and self-reported perceptions of the effectiveness of the sketch-recognitionsoftware. Preliminary results look very positive, and the full paper will include a detailed dataanalysis of both quantitative learning outcomes and qualitative comments from users.

Green, M. G., & Caldwell, B. W., & Helms, M., & Linsey, J. S., & Hammond, T. A. (2015, June), Using Natural Sketch Recognition Software to Provide Instant Feedback on Statics Homework (Truss Free Body Diagrams): Assessment of a Classroom Pilot Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25007

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