Engineering graduates in advancing economies are not only expected to have engineering knowledge, but also use them in creative and innovative ways. The importance of visual thinking has been critical for creativity and innovation in design. However, today’s engineering students are proficient in detailed design tools but lacking in conceptual design and ideation, and engineering curricula needs to develop a more effective framework for teaching visual thinking. In this paper, we report our efforts to embed principles of design thinking and visual thinking practices, like McKim’s “seeing, imagining and drawing” cycle [1]. We use a toy design course in mechanical engineering for our pilot study as a scaffold for introducing these principles in an engaging, creative, and fun environment. We introduced free-hand sketching as a tool for visual thinking during the design and communication of concepts. We also report the impact of these changes through information gleaned from student feedback surveys and analysis of design notebooks. We use our findings to propose ways to provide the students with a set of balanced techniques that help them in visual thinking, communication, and design. An improved implementation of this experience is discussed and future work is proposed to overcome barriers to thinking and communication.

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