Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings


Sketching free body diagrams is an essential skill that students learn in introductory physics and engineering classes; however, university class sizes are growing and often have hundreds of students in a single class. This situation creates a grading challenge for instructors as there is simply not enough time nor resources to provide adequate feedback on every problem. We have developed a web-based application called Mechanix to provide automated real-time feedback on hand-drawn free body diagrams for students. The system is driven by novel sketch recognition algorithms developed for recognizing and comparing trusses, general shapes, and arrows in diagrams. We have discovered students perform as well as paper homework or other online homework systems which only check the final answer through deployment to five universities with 450 students completing homework on the system over the 2018 and 2019 school years. Mechanix has reduced the amount of manual grading required for instructors in those courses while ensuring students can correctly draw the free body diagram.

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation


Dynamics, Engineering education, FBD, Sketch, Statics


©2021 American Society for Engineering Education


Mechanical Engineering