Art Meets Engineering Design: An Approach for Reducing Sketch Inhibition in Engineers During the Design Process

by | Sep 8, 2014

Authors: Joran W. Booth, Abhinav K. Bhasin, and Karthik Ramani
In ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (pp. V003T04A013-V003T04A013). American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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While much prior work has been done regarding sketching and its impact on design and a few on how to train engineers to sketch, there have been no prior studies in engineering to reduce inhibition to frequent sketching. This paper describes a sketching intervention developed from art teaching aimed at reducing inhibition to sketching and a study to evaluate its effectiveness. In the study, students (n = 55) were tested with pre-mid-post assessments consisting of a mechanical, organic, and design-oriented sketching task and a TLX survey measuring the level of difficulty. The study found that the students overwhelmingly reported their inhibition was lowered, but the short-term TLX data suggested inhibition was higher. However, the TLX data showed a longterm decrease in inhibition-related measures, perhaps suggesting that long-term encouragement to sketch is effective in reducing inhibition to sketch. These results tentatively suggest that sketch inhibition is reduced by actively promoting creativity and sketching, some use of the activities presented here, and by deemphasizing the importance of higher-level skills such as perspective drawing.





Joran is a research scientist and lecturer at Yale University and a Co-Advisor with Professor Tahira Reid. He received the degree of D-PhD in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. He received his bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the Brigham Young University. His research focuses on how students abstract and solve complex problems in early design phases, with a special emphasis on functional decomposition and sketching/visualization. Other research interests include prototyping, engineering history, education, family science, and history. Joran spends his free time volunteering, playing board games, hiking, playing music, or spending time outdoors. His past projects include starting the Purdue Maker's club, various sketching workshops, and simple robots. He recently finished an internship at IMMI, a top automotive safety products company.  Joran is a member of ASME and the Order of the Engineer. You can find more information at