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Work in Progress: Development of an AutoCAD Plugin to Increase Student’s Spatial Visualization Skills

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Construction Engineering Division (CONST) Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering Division (CONST)

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Paper Authors

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Omar Snosi


Kimberly Grau Talley, P.E. Texas State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kimberly G. Talley, P.E. is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, Bobcat Made Makerspace Director at Texas State University, and a licensed Professional Engineer. She received her Ph.D. and M.S.E. from the University of Texas at Austin in Structural Engineering. Her undergraduate degrees in History and in Construction Engineering and Management are from North Carolina State University. Dr. Talley teaches courses in the Construction Science and Management and Civil Engineering Technology Programs, and her research focus is in student engagement and retention in engineering and engineering technology education. Contact:

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Krishna Prasad Kisi Texas State University Orcid 16x16

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Krishna P. Kisi, holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, MS in Construction Management from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from Tribhuvan University. He has several years of teaching experie

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Spatial visualization of 3D objects based upon 2D drawings is a fundamental skill for engineers, contractors, and architects, and a lack of spatial visualization skills has been shown to result in lower scores in math, science, and engineering courses as well as lower persistence to graduation. Although BIM (Building Information Modelling) technology has grown in adoption throughout the AEC (Architect, Engineering, and Construction) industry, 2D drawings are still a fundamental deliverable that require correct interpretation for accurate construction. Most universities introduce AutoCAD in their lower-level classes to teach 2D drawings in their AEC curriculum, and then include 3D visualization courses in their upper-level classes. Students, however, still find difficulty interpreting 2D lines in AutoCAD as 3D objects, especially when they have poor spatial visualization skills. In addition, students often do not know why they are taught to use different line types when drafting, such as what the difference between a solid and dashed line from a 2D drawing represents in the physical structure. This work-in-progress project is testing a custom plugin developed in AutoCAD to help undergraduates improve their spatial visualization ability, by facilitating the connection between 2D sketches and 3D objects. This custom AutoCAD plugin has been developed that allows students to self-verify their 2D drawings by checking the 3D versions of what they have drafted. Students could then engage in what-if scenarios to visualize what would be the interpretation of 2D objects in a 3D space by changing their drawings and the properties of the assigned line types. As a pilot test of this plugin, this study will collect feedback on the usability and training tutorial for the plugin from students who are enrolled in AutoCAD classes in the construction science and management program in a large, Hispanic Serving Institution in the South-Central United States. This pilot study is guiding the refinement of the plugin tutorial so that the full test of the plugin’s efficacy on students’ spatial visualization skills can run smoothly. To get this feedback on the tutorial, students enrolled in an AutoCAD course will watch the tutorial video in class and then try out the plugin’s features during an in-class exercise. Clarifying questions from the students will be noted as areas to improve upon. Further, students will be asked to complete a survey after the exercise for their feedback and suggestions. The instructor will also be interviewed for the same. This paper will present details about the AutoCAD plugin, the tutorial video, and results from the pilot study.

Snosi, O., & Talley,, K. G., & Kisi, K. P. (2023, June), Work in Progress: Development of an AutoCAD Plugin to Increase Student’s Spatial Visualization Skills Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44222

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