Design thinking is often hidden and implicit, so empirical approach based on experiments and data-driven methods has been the primary way of doing such research. In support of empirical studies, design behavioral data which reflects design thinking becomes crucial, especially with the recent advances in data mining and machine learning techniques. In this paper, a research platform that supports data-driven design thinking studies is introduced based on a computer-aided design (cad) software for solar energy systems, energy3d, developed by the team. We demonstrate several key features of energy3d including a fine-grained design process logger, embedded design experiment and tutorials, and interactive cad interfaces and dashboard. These features make energy3d a capable testbed for a variety of research related to engineering design thinking and design theory, such as search strategies, design decision-making, artificial intelligent (AI) in design, and design cognition. Using a case study on an energy-plus home design challenge, we demonstrate how such a platform enables a complete research cycle of studying designers” sequential decision-making behaviors based on fine-grained design action data and unsupervised clustering methods. The results validate the utility of energy3d as a research platform and testbed in supporting future design thinking studies and provide domain-specific insights into new ways of integrating clustering methods and design process models (e.g., the function–behavior–structure model) for automatically clustering sequential design behaviors.