This thesis presents a new method that improves upon the existing approaches to developing collaborative tools. The new method uses automatically inferred and manually recorded design rationale to intelligently filter the information that is shared by a collaborative tool. This represents an improvement upon the existing state of the art in collaborative engineering tools. To demonstrate the viability of the method three collaborative tools were created. The first is a multi-user collaborative design environment tool named SimulPart and built upon the NX CAD package. SimulPart uses the new method to limit the amount of communication required to keep every user in synch during a multi-user co-design session. The second implementation is a visual history tool named VisiHistory that allows designers to watch time lapse videos of the creation of a design that are automatically generated using the new method. The final tool is an intelligent user directory named SmartHelp that uses the new method to allow designers to identify which of their peers have expertise in certain CAD operations. Validation was performed for each of these tools by benchmarking the tool against the leading commercial solution or industry process. The results of the validation showed that the new method does in fact offer a superior collaborative solution as it outperforms the existing tools and methods in several key collaborative metrics. As a result of this work future efforts are encouraged into both improving upon the quality of the inferred design rationale and increasing the functionality of the three tools created using the new method.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





design rationale, multi-user CAD, automated acquisition, collaboration, design process, design intent