Eric Anderson
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The value and change of visualization in design education

Visualization is a broad area for research. However, while I engage in many of its areas in teaching and practice, my focus is on how to understand and communicate three dimensional information. This approach is closely related to my experiences as a design practitioner. I understand that each design problem may require a unique visual solution and therefore use available tools (manual and digital) to achieve goals. Yet among the available tool options I place my research emphasis on manual drawing and the role it plays in design education. This is particularly important because drawing continues to be a valued and necessary visualization tool in design, especially in industrial design education. It is the foundation for cognitive understanding and the framework that many digital tools build upon. However the contemporary student of design has posed a challenge to traditional tools and curricula models. This student has grown up in a world where technology has always been a natural part of their artifacts and environments. They are computer literate and are less likely to have drawn, explored how physical things work, built models, fixed equipment, or engaged in a number of other activities that could provide experience and meaning to three-dimensional information. As a result, many of these students are having greater difficulty perceiving and conceiving form, understanding its complexities, and purposely generating it - despite the array of digital tools at their disposal. Their confidence in technology, coupled with diminished drawing support in many design programs, makes the acceptance of drawing more difficult. It is further alarming that these deficiencies are witnessed by many design programs across the United States and have emerged as a concern to industrial design employers seeking to fill entry-level positions. A gap generated by the current transition from traditional hand skills of drawing and making to modern digital tools is thought to contribute to this decline in visual acuity. This too is an area that my research addresses.


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