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1999

Eric N. Wiebe

North Carolina State University

ABSTRACT

Definitions of geometry and graphics are developed based on a panel discussion held at the 8th

International Conference on Engineering Computer Graphics and Descriptive Geometry

(ICECGDG) held in Austin, Texas (Baker, et al., 1998). These definitions are used as a starting point

for discussion of the future applications of geometry and graphics in engineering graphics educa-

tion. Past, present, and future applications in graphical analysis, descriptive geometry, and engi-

neering documentation are used as examples.

This paper started as part of a panel discus- ing as much as any tangible artifact. Any

sion on the taxonomy of geometry and taxonomy of geometry must note that it is

graphics at the 8th International Conference not a single monolithic field of study, but is

on Engineering Computer Graphics and divided into numerous branches. Branches

Descriptive Geometry (ICECGDG) held in of geometry include Euclidean, non-

Austin, TX (Baker, et al., 1998). Whereas Euclidean, projective, descriptive, hyperbol-

the panel was primarily concerned with a ic, topological, fractal, analytic, differential,

larger, theoretical discussion of geometry and so on. Each area will have its own

and graphics and how this dialogue could axioms and theorems as its basis and have

help guide the structure of future ICECGDG varying degrees of overlap with each other

conferences, the goal here is to try and bring or with other branches of mathematics. In a

these issues to bear specifically on the future similar vein, different professions will apply

of engineering and technical graphics different branches of geometry in different

instruction. The paper will open with a sum- ways. Even though geometry has at its roots

mary of how the panel attempted to define the study of spatial entities, it does not mean

geometry and graphics and then discuss how that these entities must be represented

these definitions apply to specific instruc- graphically. Purely geometric concepts can

tional issues in engineering and technical be modeled without objects such as points,

graphics. lines, and planes.

Most of the panel members agreed that bring into common ground. One panel

geometry is a branch of mathematics con- member, L. Cocchiarella, traced the term

cerning itself with the properties, relation- back to an etymological root meaning 'to

ships, and measurements of spatial entities. engrave1. This follows right in line with

The practice of geometry originally focused other panel members' contention that graph-

on measuring and only later made use of ics are inherently two-dimensional represen-

relations and operations. In this way, geom- tations. To ground graphics in the physical

etry evolved into a deductive system found- world even more, a number of the panelists

ed upon agreed axioms and concepts. state that graphics is a tool rather than a

Wiebe-13

deductive system or way of

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discussion of how geometry and

graphics relate to one another. -3.22- -1- 3.00-

Figure 1 - A nomograph for calculating a physics

up the inherent synergy of geom-

problem. (From Giesecke et al. (1991), p880).

etry and graphics. Whereas

graphics are based on the laws of

geometry, graphics also plays a key role in electronic calculators, graphical methods

communicating geometric concepts, ideas, were widely used as an appropriately accu-

and representations. Graphics are useful to rate method of solving mathematically based

students and researchers alike for under- engineering problems. Graphical charts,

standing geometrical relations in space intu- such as nomographs, were constructed to

itively. As a number of researchers associat- rapidly calculate commonly used equations

ed with the Engineering Design Graphics (Figure 1). The widespread availability of

Division have noted, a better understanding calculators and computers with robust

of the psychological basis of the perception graphical and numeric output has all but

of graphics and its application in education done away with the need to manually con-

and professional communication is key to its struct and use graphical analysis tools such

effective use. as these. Descriptive geometry has also

been impacted by these technological trends

(Figure 2). At what point does it make sense

This panel certainly did not pretend to come

to manually construct solutions with instru-

up with the definitive statements on geome-

ments for problems that can be mathemati-

try and graphics. Instead they reaffirmed the

cally calculated on computers? For that mat-

belief in the interrelationship of these two

ter, when does it make sense to use the same

fields of study and the importance of inves-

techniques used in manual drafting with a 3-

tigatigating and discussing these issues so

D CAD system to solve these problems

that our professions will continue to be vital

and expand. (Croft Jr., 1998)? None of these changes in

technology, however, has relieved teachers

of the responsibility of instructing on the

Past and Current Geometry and Graphics use

by Engineers and Technologists proper use of analytic tools (whether they be

Prior to the widespread use of computers and manual or computer-based) nor on the

Figure 2 - A descriptive geometry approach to determining the true measure of a

dihedral angle. (From Bertoline et al. (1997), p546).

the appropriate level of accuracy (Ferguson, mechanistic practices which were purely an

1993). outgrowth of the technology available when

they first developed. Graphical techniques

Concurrent with the decreased emphasis on are an excellent applied activity for reinforc-

graphical analysis methods was the ing and teaching key concepts of geometry

increased focus on the use of computer- and related branches of mathematics. It is

based 2-D CAD systems for documentation clear that traditional analytic graphical tech-

(Figure 3). In this application, 2-D is used niques help students to think 'geometrically'.

primarily as an automated drafting tool for As it was pointed out in the panel summary

documenting engineering designs for com- above, graphics are not needed to apply

municating design, manufacturing, and geometry to solving problems, but is a pow-

assembly information. Though there is still erful means for doing so. Are there ways of

the opportunity to use 2-D CAD based mul- applying contemporary technology to find

tiview and pictorial techniques as an analyt- new ways of helping students to think 'geo-

ic tool, the primary focus in most engineer- metrically'? Numerous researchers in the

ing and technical graphics curriculums con- Engineering Design Graphics Division have

tinues to be on the appropriate application of realized the important role graphical activi-

ANSI/ISO documentation standards. ties play in the development of spatial visu-

alization skills (cf., Branoff, 1998; McWhorter

Where do these traditional methods of using & et al, 1990; Miller, 1996; Nowacki, 1991;

geometry and graphics in analysis and docu- Rooney, 1989; Ross & Aukstakalnis, 1993;

mentation fit into contemporary engineering Sorby & Baartmans, 1994). A number of

and technical graphics? A starting point is to studies by these and other researchers point

attempt to separate the underlying concepts to the important role 3-D modeling tools can

and processes which help develop well play in enhancing visualization ability. Still,

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REVISIONS DRAWING NO

Bertoline et al. (1997), p400).

it is clear that we are just beginning to under- es (and develop new ones) while discarding

stand this relationship. drawing and documentation techniques

which are no longer appropriate in the 3-D

An Evolving Role of Geometry and Graphics modeling environment. For example, Figure

Looking at the new generation of technolo- 4 shows an exercise where the student has to

gies used by engineering and technical fields pin the pivot arm at a 60 degree angle to the

leads to some ideas of where we as a profes- base, then pin the rod to the pivot arm and

sion may be going. It is going to be critical have it pass through the center of the width

to continue to address core goals of develop- and thickness dimensions of the plate.

ing spatial visualization, graphically based Finally, the student has to calculate the angle

problem-solving, and effective communica- of the bore in the plate needed for the rod to

tion skills in future engineers and technolo- pass through. For this problem, there is no

gists. What must be done, however, is for need for the student to manually construct

technical and engineering graphics profes- various projections of the assembly nor is it

sionals to be leaders in applying new, 3-D necessary for them to physically measure

modeling technologies to achieving these lengths and angles. On the other hand, they

goals. This approach serves two critical must be able to generate a systematic strate-

educational goals, developing graphics liter- gy of how they are going to create the nec-

acy and giving students experience with essary 3-D construction geometry and then

state-of-the-art technology. assemble the parts. This strategic activity

requires spatial visualization skills, a knowl-

Instruction in how to 'think geometrically' edge of how to limit degrees of freedom

has to evolve towards the use of virtual 3-D through geometric constraints, a knowledge

models in modeling systems. The challenge of how to define points, lines, and planes in

will be how to preserve key analytic process- three-space, and a knowledge of how the

Figure 4 - A graphical analysis problem using 3-D modeling software.

software creates and manipulates these enti- between intra-part features and features on

ties. mating parts. With 3-D modeling, graphic

representation of the model database contin-

The use of virtual 3-D models of engineering ues to be a powerful tool to represent geom-

designs means that much of the information etry. The student's understanding of the

which was explicitly documented in tradi- geometry he/she is representing and how

tional working drawings is now implicitly that geometry addresses a design problem is

embedded in the model database. Though central to successful model database con-

proper application of ANSI/ISO standards to struction. The new tools being used, howev-

working drawings is still an important skill; er, create documentation as just one repre-

the structuring of the 3-D model database to sentation of the database late in the con-

properly represent the design intent of the struction process. As many companies do

engineer/technologist now requires a whole away with traditional working drawings,

new set of skills. For example, the efficient documentation should be used increasingly

application of GD&T notation to drawing as a tool for demonstrating to the instructor

views extracted from a 3-D model requires the robustness of the dynamic model data-

planning at the earliest stages of model con- base the student has created, not as a static

struction (Figure 5) (Wiebe & Branoff, graphic end in and of itself.

1999). For the model in this figure, the GD&T

notation - representing the size, location, and Finally, graphical techniques can continue to

form of geometric features - is based on how play a role in engineering problem solving

these features are constrained to theoretical using empirical and theoretical data (Wiebe,

datums established early in the modeling 1998). The difference is likely to be that

process. These datums, in turn, are placed these new graphical techniques are not like-

based on how the part geometry interacts ly to be used to find unitary 'solutions' to

Wiebe • 17

a. Model datum placement

0.02 A B

— 20

0.02

10

b. GD&T Notation 30

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LO 0.02 ABC

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kill 0.02 A B C 2X 0 5.0

-^ 3 0.1 @)|A B C

c. Sample assembly

al part assembly (from Wiebe & Branoff (1999).

Spring • 1999

Figure 6 - Using color to code the results of a finite element analysis of a part model.

sets in a holistic fashion. Visualizations such

as Figure 6 allow individuals to synthesize Baker, J. E., Cocchiarella, L., Kalic, I., Nauk,

the results of solving thousands of simulta- P. I., Suzuki, K., Weiss, G, & Wiebe, E. N.

neous equations, which would be near (1998). Taxonomy of geometry and graph-

impossible without graphics. These visual- ics: What is what in geometry and graphics

izations can be used to help individuals and what is of interest to ISGG? Panel pre-

strategize about solution paths or communi- sented at the 8 th International Conference

cate their results to other individuals. In on Engineering Computer Graphics and

either case, knowledge of appropriate appli- Descriptive Geometry, Austin, TX.

cation of graphical techniques (most of

which are not now currently being taught to Bertoline, G. R., Wiebe, E. N., Miller, C , &

our students) in addition to knowledge of Mohler, J. L. (1997). Technical graphics

geometry are critical to appropriate use of communications (2nd ed.). New York, NY:

visualizations. McGraw-Hill.

Engineering and technical graphics is going coordinate axes to a mental rotations task.

through another evolution where the profes- The Engineering Design Graphics Journal,

sion is required to once again define the 62 (2), 16-32

roles of geometry and graphics. As with the

other evolutionary changes engineering and Croft Jr., F M. (1998). The need (?) for

technical graphics over its history, the prin- descriptive geometry in a world of 3D mod-

ciples of geometry and the use of graphics to eling. The Engineering Design Graphics

represent them are still central to our instruc- Journal, 62 (3), 4-8.

tional practice. At the same time, 3-D mod-

eling software and changing industrial prac- Ferguson, E. S. (1993). Engineering and the

tice requires us to rethink how we deliver mind's eye. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

these concepts and how we develop profi-

Giesecke, F. E., Mitchell, A., Spencer, H. C ,

ciencies necessary for a new generation of

Hill, I. L., Dygon, J. T, & Novak, J. E.

engineers and technologists.

(1991). Technical drawing (9th ed.). New

York: Macmillan.

Wiebe-19

McWhorter, S. W, & et al. (1990). Evaluation

of 3-D display techniques for engineering

design visualization. Proceedings of the

ASEE Engineering Design Graphics

Division Mid-year Meeting. Tempe, AZ.,

121-129.

applied and theoretical spatial visualization

publications in engineering graphics. The

Engineering Design Graphics Journal, 60

(3), 13-33.

neering design. In N. M. Patrikalakis (Ed.),

Scientific Visualization of Physical

Phenomena, (pp. 61-83). Berlin: Springer-

Verlag.

Principles of computer-aided design.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Reality: Implications for Research in

Engineering Design Graphics. Paper pre-

sented at the ASEE-Engineering Design

Graphics Division Mid-Year Meeting, San

Francisco, CA.

introduction to 3-D spatial visualization - A

pre-graphics course. Proceedings of the 6th

International Conference on Engineering

Computer Graphics and Descriptive

Geometry, Tokyo, Japan.

tional technical graphics with scientific

visualization. In ISGG (Ed.), Proceedings

of the 8th International Conference on

Computer Graphics and Descriptive

Geometry, Austin, TX., 627-631.

Supporting GD&T practices through 3-D

modeling activities. Paper presented at the

American Society for Engineering Education -

Annual Meeting, Charlotte, NC.

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