Hongmei Lu

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering Science


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Dr. Ralph O. Buchal


Engineering design is defined as a process of devising a technical system, component, or process to satisfy desired needs. Collaborative engineering design (CED) is a knowledge- intensive process that involves multidisciplinary people working jointly, sharing resources and outcomes, and building new knowledge while solving problems. People need to collaborate synchronously or asynchronously, either in the same place or distributed geographically. This thesis proposes that engineering design can be modeled not only as a process of knowledge transformation, but as a process of collaborative knowledge building (CKB). CKB is a goal-driven collaborative process of generating and refining ideas and concepts of value to the community. Properly applied and supported, CKB has the potential to improve both learning and design outcomes resulting from collaborative design projects. Existing collaboration tools have evolved without a clear understanding of designers’ needs, even though a portion of the required functionalities has been achieved separately. This thesis proposes an integrated CKB-orientated model for collaborative engineering design, incorporating the key elements of Stahl’s CKB model, Lu’s ECN-based collaborative engineering model, Nonaka’s knowledge creation theory, and Sim and Duffy’s model of a design activity. Based on the model, a set of specific requirements for collaboration tools are presented and some functionalities not existing currently are identified.



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