Engineering Sketching: A Valuable Teaching Tool in Construction

Samad Sepasgozar, Leonhard Bernold


Sketching in general engineering and science has been “outmanoeuvred” by computer graphics while still holding on in architectural engineering as a tool to think about spatial relationships, allowing the students to develop conceptual designs quicker than any CAD. Moreover, a recent paper reported that sketching helped students in geology develop critical thinking skills. Based on students’ feedback, it was concluded that it led to a deeper understanding of important concepts. Should it surprise us that psychological research shows that sketching facilitates inference, discovery and learning? This paper presents a model for creating and assessing assignments that uses engineering sketching to teach and learn in a second year course at UNSW, CVEN2101-Engineering Construction. The class focuses on studying key principles related to the safe and effective utilization of construction equipment such as trucks, excavators, cranes and temporary structures. Students faced the challenge to investigate how the physics and math relate to digging, lifting and the creation of large forces while keeping labourers safe. The concept of forensic engineering had to be used to study the cause of accidents. The developed model includes various measurements and proper motion paths, in an attempt to quantify the level of understanding. It is felt, that based on the findings of this study, that engineering sketching not only allows inventing new mechanisms, as Leonardo da Vinci did, but equally important, provides a valuable and reliable tool to teach and learn construction engineering.

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