Designing Together: Exploring Collaborative Dynamics of Multi-Objective Design Problems in Virtual Environments

Debrina Roy, Nicole Calpin, Kathy Cheng, Alison Olechowski, Andrea P. Argüelles, Nicolás F.Soria Zurita, Jessica Menold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pace of technological advancements has been rapidly increasing in recent years, with the advent of artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, and other emerging technologies fundamentally changing the way human beings work. The adoption and integration of these advanced technologies necessitate teams with diverse disciplinary expertise, to help teams remain agile in an ever-evolving technological landscape. Significant disciplinary diversity amongst teams, however, can be detrimental to team communication and performance. Additionally, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption and use of technologies that enable design teams to collaborate across significant geographical distances have become the norm in today's work environments, further complicating communication and performance issues. Little is known about the way in which technology-mediated communication affects the collaborative processes of design. As a first step toward filling this gap, the current work explores the fundamental ways experts from distinct disciplinary backgrounds collaborate in virtual design environments. Specifically, we explore the conversational dynamics between experts from two complementary yet distinct fields: non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and design for additive manufacturing (DFAM). Using Markov modeling, the study identified distinct communicative patterns that emerged during collaborative design efforts. Our findings suggest that traditional assumptions regarding communication patterns and design dynamics may not be applicable to expert design teams working in virtual environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031702
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

Cite this