Collaboration has always been critical to the success of new product development teams, and the advent of geographically dispersed teams has significantly altered the way that team members interact. Multi-user computer-aided design (MUCAD) and crowdsourcing are two results of efforts to enable collaboration between geographically dispersed individuals. In this research, a study was done to investigate the differences in performance between MUCAD and single-user CAD teams, in which teams competed to create the best model of a hand drill. This was done across a three-day period to recreate the scenario found in industry. It was found that MUCAD increases awareness of teammates' activities and increases communication between team members. Different sources of frustration for single-user and multi-user teams were identified, as well as differing patterns of modeling style. These findings demonstrate that MUCAD software has significant potential to improve team collaboration and performance. A second study explored a number of potentially significant factors in MUCAD team performance, including leadership, design style, unfamiliar parts, knowledge transfer, individual experience, and team composition. In this study, teams of undergraduate mechanical engineering students worked together to complete tasks using NXConnect, a MUCAD plugin for NX developed at Brigham Young University. A primary finding was that having an appointed leader for a MUCAD team improves performance, in particular when that leader works with the team in creating the CAD model. It was also found that creating a framework to aid in organizing and coordinating the creation of the CAD model may decrease the time required for completion. In the final study, the possibility of using crowdsourcing to complete complex product design tasks was explored. In this study, a process for crowdsourcing complex product design tasks was developed, as well as a website to act as the platform for testing this process. A crowd consisting of engineering and technology students then worked together on the website to design a frisbee tracking device. The crowd was able to collaborate to accomplish some detailed product design tasks, but was not able to develop a complete product. Major findings include the need for more formal leadership and crowd organization, the need for better decision making mechanisms, and the need for a better model for engaging crowd members on a consistent basis. It was also found that crowd members had a greater willingness to pay for the product they developed than individuals who had not worked on the project. Results also show that although crowd members were often frustrated with the collaboration process, they enjoyed being able to work with a large group of people on a complex project.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





Multi-user CAD, collaborative design, virtual teams, crowdsourcing