Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer and Information Technology

First Advisor

Alejandra J. Magana

Committee Chair

Alejandra J. Magana

Committee Member 1

James Mohler

Committee Member 2

Senay Purzer

Committee Member 3

Carla Zoltowski


Facilitating students to become informed designers is a goal in engineering education that has been proposed by multiple studies. The use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software has been used as a learning tool to promote design thinking in practical settings for undergraduate students. However, very little is known about the informed design process undertaken by these students while using the interactive and learning focused CAD tool to solve design challenges. This paper analyzes the nature of design thinking that happens when students use a particular CAD tool. In this study, I have adapted Crismond and Adams' Informed Design Teaching and Learning Matrix (Crismond & Adams, 2012) to help identify qualities and patterns of informed design in the final artifacts of a class assignment using an educational CAD tool, Energy3D. It is hypothesized that a CAD software can help promote design thinking by allowing students to iterate and modify designs before submission thereby leading to increased informed design decisions and expert-like design practices. The major findings included that there was a significant increase between Reflection 1 and Reflection 2, in that there was evidence of more advanced design thinking evidence with students understanding the design challenge and building knowledge. However, there was no significant change in students weighing options and making decisions or reflection practices.