Research Papers

Analysis of Capstone Design Reports: Visual Representations

[+] Author and Article Information
Sophoria Westmoreland1

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742snwest@umd.edu

Ashley Ruocco

Department of Energy, Germantown, MD 20874ashley.ruocco@hq.doe.gov

Linda Schmidt

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742lschmidt@umd.edu

The study results would have qualified for IRB approval based on the use of the data in this report. See “Exempt Review Guidance and Categories,” http://www.umresearch.umd.edu/IRB/IRBexceptionCategories.htm, accessed January 13, 2011.


Corresponding author.

J. Mech. Des 133(5), 051010 (Jun 08, 2011) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004015 History: Received July 16, 2009; Revised April 10, 2011; Published June 08, 2011; Online June 08, 2011

Mechanical engineers and those in related fields require effective written communication skills. These include the appropriate presentation of mechanical design information in visual format. A study of 48 Capstone Design Reports submitted over a period of five semesters gives insight into the visual representations used to describe designs. This study presents observations on the use of visuals in a set of Capstone Design Reports with particular emphasis on sketches. The findings are that students will include hand drawn sketches of design alternatives during the conceptual design process when specifically required to do so. The sketches tend not to be of high quality artistically but they do include details relevant to engineering analysis as determined by a coding scheme focused on the content level of sketches. The authors believe that the positive benefits of sketching should be encouraged by requiring students to produce hand drawn sketches and accepting sketches as visuals in concept generation design sections of design reports.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Averages of visuals in capstone reports

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Figure 2

Total number of sketches

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Figure 3

Total number of line drawings

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Figure 4

Total number of CAD

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Figure 5

Total number of photographs

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Figure 6

Fraction of visual type used in each section of each capstone design report




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