When engineering content is created and applied during the product life cycle, it is often stored and forgotten. Since search remains word based, engineers do not have the effective means to harness and reuse past designs and experiences. Current information retrieval approaches based on statistical methods and keyword matching do not satisfy users’ needs in the engineering domain. Therefore, we propose a new computational framework that includes an ontological basis and algorithms to retrieve unstructured engineering documents while handling complex queries. The results from the preliminary test demonstrate that our method outperforms the traditional keyword-based search with respect to the standard information retrieval measurement.