Mechanical engineers and those in related fields require effective written communication skills. These include the appropriate presentation of mechanical design information in visual format. A study of 48 Capstone Design Reports submitted over a period of five semesters gives insight into the visual representations used to describe designs. This study presents observations on the use of visuals in a set of Capstone Design Reports with particular emphasis on sketches. The findings are that students will include hand drawn sketches of design alternatives during the conceptual design process when specifically required to do so. The sketches tend not to be of high quality artistically but they do include details relevant to engineering analysis as determined by a coding scheme focused on the content level of sketches. The authors believe that the positive benefits of sketching should be encouraged by requiring students to produce hand drawn sketches and accepting sketches as visuals in concept generation design sections of design reports.

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