Sketch Recognition Algorithms for Comparing Complex and Unpredictable Shapes
Martin Field, Stephanie Valentine and Tracy Hammond
In an introductory Engineering course with an annual enrollment of over 1000 students, a professor has little option but to rely on multiple choice exams for midterms and finals. Furthermore, the teaching assistants are too overloaded to give detailed feedback on submitted homework assignments. We introduce Mechanix, a computer-assisted tutoring system for engineering students. Mechanix uses recognition of freehand sketches to provide instant, detailed, and formative feedback as the student progresses through each homework assignment, quiz, or exam. Free sketch recognition techniques allow students to solve free body diagram and static truss problems as if they were using a pen and paper. The same recognition algorithms enable professors to add new content simply by sketching out the correct answer. Mechanix is able to ease the burden of grading so that instructors can assign more free response questions, which provide a better measure of student progress than multiple choice questions do.