Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Andres Sousa-Poza

Committee Member

Adrian Gheorghe

Committee Member

Ghaith Rabadi

Committee Member

Van Brewer


Engineering Management is an interdisciplinary field of study. As such, Engineering Management must rely on the energies of its participants to integrate toward the problem being solved. Many techniques exist to aid the researcher towards a common goal; however, it can only be surmised on how effective the techniques have been. Not until the activity is over and the participants reflect back on their results can they know whether they shared a common understanding of the problem. This study explores the emergence of shared awareness based the interactions of disparate perspectives at a particulate level. The study builds from observations of a real-world problem and explores how shared awareness emerges.

Given the shared nature of multiple disciplinary approaches quantifying shared awareness would seem particularly important. It is not enough to say that shared awareness has occurred; more importantly it is necessary to know when shared awareness has occurred and with whom and what the conditions were for shared awareness in situ. Since any given project is longitudinal in nature, change is inevitable. With change comes different conditions for shared awareness; it cannot be assumed that shared awareness is sustained through change. Without knowing the prior conditions for shared awareness there is nothing to compare with when change has occurred. This study attempts to quantify when the emergent state of shared awareness has occurred and by extension the conditions where awareness is shared within a group of individuals. Most importantly, this study will provide a method for studying shared awareness [probability threshold] using percolation theory. Percolation is one of numerous techniques being developed out of statistical mechanics. Statistical mechanics (reinterpreted for the use in this study) provides a framework for relating the microscopic properties of individual atoms and molecules [individual] to the macroscopic bulk properties of materials [whole] that can be observed in everyday life (Albert, 2002). An experiment is proposed to test the hypothesis formed within the study and canons to substantiate the findings of the experiment. Ultimately, the study proposes a General Theory for Shared Awareness that provides a foundation for further research.