Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Visualization with CAD

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Visualization with CAD

Article excerpt

The ability to visualize and think in three dimensions is one of the most important requisites, indeed an essential skill, for the successful scientist and engineer. To the designer, it means the ability to form a mental picture before the object even exists and the ability to express this image in terms of views.

To create a technical drawing requires spatial visualization skills. Visualization in this context is the process of creating a 3D image of an object in a person's mind, using the evidence and clues provided by multi-view drawings (2D) or other presentations. While visualizing in three dimensions can generally be learned through the study of multi-view and pictorial drawings, students often have difficulty mastering this important communication skill.

Debate Among Educators

Because of an increasing importance in technological society, educators continue to seek teaching methods and instructional strategies to enhance the teaching and learning of visualization. To this end, a debate has arisen among educators as to whether students can think and visualize more critically with CAD than with traditional methods. Some support traditional ways of drafting; others believe in CAD alone or a combination of both.

Arguing in favor of CAD is the observation that the creation of engineering drawings makes heavy demands on intellectual skills, and requires a good math foundation with an ability to visualize the object depicted. Not all students combine these talents readily, and to most, the prospect of spending hours sitting at a table drawing and erasing lines is not enticing. In this context, CAD systems are attractive tools. Furthermore, because computer graphics are already important to many industries, now is the time for CAD to be introduced to students.

Dimarco advises, "Stress the fundamentals, but start now to help your students think about new technology." [1] He believes that students can learn the principles and concepts of drafting by using CAD equally as well as by using traditional drafting tools. Hardy thinsk that CAD and traditional drafting each serve a need and must coexist. [2] Gorman says that traditional drafting has effectively served programs in the past and will continue to serve students in the future. [3] Each of these men makes logical points to support their views, but perhaps they miss a significant idea. With change a certainty for the future, is it not more important to teach students attitudes, flexibility and critical thinking--whether they use T-square and triangle, a keyboard or ever voice-operated equipment--rather than particular technical content?

Many Aspects for CAD

Some technical educators do not realize how progressively important computers are becoming in the drafting and design fields. Visual simulations, for example, are becoming more and more important in many of today's large-scale planning and design projects. Generating and presenting accurate and realistic images of the finished product can be essential for approval of the project. CAD allows students to make visualizations of how a project will appear in real life--without the need for expensive external design resources.

CAD is also one of the more popular forms of computer simulation. Simulations enhance motivation, the transfer of learning and efficiency. CAD simulation has the advantages of convenience, safety and controllability over real experience; is a good forerunner to real experiences; and is useful for providing experiences that would not otherwise be possible.

Further, CAD is changing the way industry works and for one basic reason--productivity. As a result, new methods of teaching traditional drafting subjects must be studied. [4] For all the differences between traditional drafting and CAD, the process of drafting still requires the technical knowledge of the drafter. CAD does not change what drafters do, but rather how they do it. …

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