Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Jitesh H. Panchal

Second Advisor

John M. Starkey

Committee Chair

Jitesh H. Panchal

Committee Co-Chair

John M. Starkey

Committee Member 1

Tahira Reid


Effective communication and collaboration among students, faculty and industrial sponsors play a vital role while formulating and solving engineering design projects. With the advent in the web technology, online platforms and systems have been proposed to facilitate interactions and collaboration among different stakeholders in the context of senior design projects. However, there are noticeable gaps in the literature with respect to understanding the effects of online collaboration platforms for formulating engineering design projects. Most of the existing literature is focused on exploring the utility of online platforms on activities after the problem is defined and teams are formed. Also, there is a lack of mechanisms and tools to guide the project formation phase in senior design projects, which makes it challenging for students and faculty to collaboratively develop and refine project ideas and to establish appropriate teams. In this thesis a web-based online collaboration platform is designed and implemented to share, discuss and obtain feedback on project ideas and to facilitate collaboration among students and faculty prior to the start of the semester. The goal of this thesis is to understand the impact of an online collaboration platform for formulating engineering design projects, and how a web-based online collaboration platform affects the amount of interactions among stakeholders during the early phases of design process. ^ A survey measuring the amount of interactions among students and faculty is administered. Initial findings show a marked improvement in the students' ability to share project ideas and form teams with other students and faculty. Students found the online platform simple to use. The suggestions for improving the tool generally included features that were not necessarily design specific, indicating that the underlying concept of this collaborative platform provides a strong basis and can be extended for future online platforms. Although the platform was designed to promote collaboration, adoption of the collaborative platform by students and faculty has been slow. While the platform appears to be very useful for collaboration, more time is required for it to be widely used by all the stakeholders and to fully convert from email communication to the use of the online collaboration platform.