Learning Support Tools for Developing Spatial Abilities in Engineering Design

Manuel Contero and Ferran Naya
DEGI — ETSII, Technical University of Valencia, 46022 Valencia, Spain
E-mail: mcontero@degi.upv.es

Pedro Company
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering and Construction, Jaume I University, 12071 Castellon, Spain

Jose Luis Saorin
DEGAI, La Laguna University, 38204 La Laguna, Spain

Abstract:
This paper presents some learning support tools for developing spatial abilities in engineering design students. They are based on the previous authors’ experience in teaching traditional Engineering Graphics and uses both on-line and batch computer-aided generation of 3D models from 2D freehand sketches. Although these applications can be used with standards PCs, they are intended to be used on Tablet-PCs to provide an experience similar to sketching on real paper. The objectives of these applications are to develop three important elements for the future engineer: spatial visualization, freehand sketching and normalized view generation. The authors present the results of a pilot study that has been realized in some Spanish universities. Two well-known tests for evaluating spatial abilities: Mental Rotation Test (MRT) and the Differential Aptitude Test — Spatial Relations subset (DAT-SR), have been used to validate the pilot study.

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