SketchFest: Emphasising Sketching Skills in Engineering Learning

DS 74: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (E&PDE12) Design Education for Future Wellbeing, Antwerp, Belguim, 06-07.9.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: de Vere, Ian; Melles, Gavin; Kapoor, Ajay
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Section: Engineering and Product Design Practice
Page(s): 443-448
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


Sketching is often described as the first language of designers and it is a critical skill for engineers and designers as it enables the multiple social and cognitive functions represented by drawing within product design and development. Drawing acumen is considered by industry as a core and indispensible skill in product design, highly efficient and free of the constraints imposed by sequential and logic based digital processes. It enables abstraction, embraces ambiguity, facilitates exploration and unexpected outcomes and provokes creativity through reflection and reinterpretation. It is apparent that any lack of ability to use drawing for creative exploration, reflection or communication can limit creativity, and constrain innovation and the efficiency of the design process. However digital design processes (i.e. CAD) have significantly impacted on the sketching skills of design and engineering students. The persuasiveness of screen-based outcomes has led a decline in drawing skill acquisition to the detriment of both design creativity and design communication. The resultant lack of sketching skills has impacted on students’ academic performance, their design confidence and creativity and their future employment potential. This paper describes SketchFest; a curricula initiative aimed at re-establishing drawing competency amongst engineering students in direct response to industry expectations. This new curriculum addresses industry concerns regarding graduate attributes through a targeted program that embeds sketching skill development throughout the learning journey.

Keywords: Sketching, creativity, product design and development, engineering curricula


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