Capstone & other design classes
The handbook Integrating Information into the Engineering Design Process provides helpful advice on the information-rich engineering design approach. This guide summarizes some relevant parts from the handbook as well as highlights a range of useful library tools.
Engineering design is a process fueled by information that is vast, varied, and context-dependent. Identifying reliable resources to understand a problem and support a decision is essential to successful design.
Gather preliminary information on the broad context of the problem, such as cultural, economical, historical, and environmental considerations.
At this early stage, general sources of information (e.g. handbooks, trade publications, news articles) are helpful in giving background information on the design task.
Discover trade news and articles in business databases which may contain latest trends and developments in a specific field.
Background information on the industries (e.g. industry reports), as well as government regulations and statistics could be useful in understanding parameters, variables, and constraints:
Get started with finding government information by region (e.g. Quebec, Canada, U.S.).
This is a very creative phase that focuses on idea generation and the synthesis of possible solutions. What were done in the past to solve similar problems? An eclectic range of information types and sources may contain such information. For example, scholarly articles, patents, technical reports and documents by various engineering firms or nonprofits.
Case studies of engineering solutions across many engineering disciplines via the Knovel database.
In videos, case studies from different companies and organizations, mostly in computer science fields.
Scholarly literature such as journal articles and conference proceedings are excellent sources for current research and studies on a topic. Below are 3 databases frequently used in engineering and computer science:
This is a definitive source of engineering research literature since 1884, containing 3 subsets: Compendex, Inspec, and Geobase.
Contents published by IEEE (Institutue of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), such as journals, transactions, and conference proceedings.
Contents published by ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) on computer-related subjects.
Patents are rich sources of detailed technical information on inventions. These legal documents are freely available online.
Patents contains unique and valuable technical details that are largely not available elsewhere. These are legal documents, so they may be challenging to read at times. A good starting point to find patents is Google Patents.
These are very hands-on phases where a design is selected and turned into something that can be made. Modelling, prototyping, testing are often involved, and detailed technical information such as materials properties and technical standards may be useful.
Properly selecting materials is a critical step in determining the best solution for a design application. The process is typically not linear as there are separate design requirements that depend on specified design criteria. Here are a few resources for locating information on material properties:
A well-known source of trusted information on ferrous and nonferrous metals and materials technology. This is the complete content of 24 volumes and 2 desk editions.
It extracts data from many technical handbooks, which allows the search for material properties across a wide range of titles, with interactive graphs and tables, as well as equation worksheets.
Standards are requirements and test methods related to types of materials, systems, componenets, or processes. The Library provides access to some standards online and on-print:
Access to over 3,000 CSA (Canadian Standards Association) standards. Some of them are ISO standards too.
This guide contains more resources on navigating online standards and print standards via Concordia Library.
Technical details sometimes can be found in product catalogues, advertisements, manuals, warranty details, and speficication sheets. They could contain detailed information on how a product works, as well as the costs of parts and components. Product literature is easy to find but not easy to evaluate as they are often promotional in nature that only mention the features but not the limitations.
Some suggested resources on construction costs, labour costs, and parts and components cost.