Product development is continually becoming more challenging as global competition requires more efficient design methods. The reuse of company knowledge, specifically the design rationale that occurs during projects is essential to success. This thesis presents a method for integrating engineering and communication tools for purposes of automating the capture of communication-based design rationale. The method is based on four basic principles: to integrate, to make data retrievable, to minimize user interaction, and to store as much DR as possible. The core method consists of two primary operations, the first being to capture the design rationale, and the second being to provide for effective retrieval. An implementation of this method that uses NX as the engineering tool and Skype VoIP software as the communication tool was created for the purpose of testing integration as a means of DR capture. The implementation was evaluated using four separate tests, which focus on efficiency of capture and retrieval, cost analysis, and user satisfaction. These results show that the tool provides improvement in each of the tested categories. From this testing I conclude that integrating communication and engineering tools is an excellent way to capture communication-based design rationale. The tool presented is more efficient than traditional methods in the test cases and provides a user-friendly solution to DR capture. This tool also has various other important applications, such as global collaboration and expectation management. It also provides an excellent framework for upcoming multi-user CAx tools.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





design rationale, knowledge capture, design, reuse, global engineering