Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Director

Han P. Bao

Committee Member

K. Williamson

Committee Member

Resit Unal


Today's engineering applications suffer from a severe integration problem. Engineering, the entire process, consists of a myriad of individual, often complex, tasks. Most computer tools support particular tasks in engineering, but the output of one tool is different from the others'. Thus, the users must re-enter the relevant information in the format required by another tool. Moreover, usually in the development process of a new product/process, several teams of engineers with different backgrounds/responsibilities are involved, for example mechanical engineers, cost estimators, manufacturing engineers, quality engineers, and project manager. Engineers need a tool(s) to share technical and managerial information and to be able to instantly access the latest changes made by one member, or more, in the teams to determine right away the impacts of these changes in all disciplines (cost, time, resources, etc.). In other words, engineers need to participate in a truly collaborative environment for the achievement of a common objective, which is the completion of the product/process design project in a timely, cost effective, and optimal manner.

In this thesis, a new framework that integrates the capabilities of four commercial software, Microsoft Excel™ (spreadsheet), Microsoft Project™ (project management), What's Best! (an optimization add-in), and Visual Basic™ (programming language), with a state-of-the-art object-oriented database (knowledge medium), InnerCircle2000™ is being presented and applied to handle the Cost-Time Trade-Off problem in project networks. The result was a vastly superior solution over the conventional solution from the viewpoint of data handling, completeness of solution space, and in the context of a collaborative engineering-computation environment.