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Library Resources for MEE 487: Design III

Locating Technical Information for Senior Design Projects

The Basics

Before conducing a literature search on your topic, it is important to have an understanding of the principles of source evaluation. The following pages provide introductory material that may help:

Technical Reports: What Are They?

A technical report is a written summary of processes or products created by an engineer or group of professional engineers. They describe laboratory studies, field studies or case studies, and they are excellent sources of information on primary research, specific experiments and materials trials. A technical report is often the only communication of that work to people outside of the research team.

Technical reports are usually released quickly after a project is completed; therefore, they are one of the most current sources of information on new developments. They do not go through any sort of publication channels and are not peer reviewed, or even edited most of the time. They are, however, often the only way to learn specific details about the creation of a product or process.

[Thank You University of Pittsburgh Bevier Engineering Library for this wonderful explanation.]

Library Indexes & Databases

Use the following databases to locate bibliographic information and full-text of articles, conference papers, technical reports, standards, patents and theses related to your design projects. Once you have located citations for relevant material, determine availability directly from the database or by searching for the publication title in URSUS. Remember, most of the material found in these databases cannot be located by using a regular web browser such as Google. These databases provide the means to locating scholarly research articles and high-quality technical information. 

  • Engineering Village: A platform for searching some of the most comprehensive and trusted databases in the field of engineering. Included with Fogler Library's subscription are Compendex, 1970 to present, with over 14 million journal articles and conference proceedings indexed; Inspec, 1969 to present, with over 13 million items indexed; and Ei Patents, with granted patents and patent applications from both the US Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office. Combined, Over 1.6 million new records are added each year. The Compendex, Inspec and Ei Patents databases may be searched combined (default) or separately. NOT A FULL TEXT DATABASE. USE THE ARTICLE LINKER BUTTONS TO CHECK FOR FULL TEXT AVAILABILITY.
  • IEEE Xplore: Complete full-text access to the IEEE/IET Electronic Library (IEL) - over 3.5 million documents. IEL includes 160+ journals and magazines published by the IEEE and IET along with transactions, conference proceedings and active IEEE standards. These publications are relevant to many disciplines including: electrical engineering, computer science, electronics, spatial information science, and sensors technology. Indexing extends back to 1988 for all journals and conference proceedings and further back to 1872 for selected publications. The IEEE Xplore search platform allows simple keyword and phrase searching or complex search queries employing a variety of operators. It also offers an alerting service, saved searches, and other valuable Web 2.0 capabilities for users who register for free personal accounts. We have contracted for 15 simultaneous users.
  • ASCE Library: The most extensive resource for civil engineering research, with full text from 34 ASCE Journals (1983 to the present), and more than 340 Conference Proceedings (2000 to present). In addition, ASCE Library provides online access to more than 300 E-books and Standards encompassing all civil engineering content areas, including construction, structures, transportation, geotechnics, environment, water resources, and civil engineering practice. Approximately 30 new titles and selected backlist titles are added each year. UMaine's license is for perpetual access, and E-book and standards are DRM-free.

Government and NGO Indexes and Databases

This is a very, very small sample of the vast amount technical information published by the U.S. government and by non-governmental organizations. There is probably no single, exhaustive listing of resources available for all technical reports, but the most comprehensive that I have found is at the University of Maryland Library's Virtual Technical Reports Center.

  • Clinical Trials. A registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world.
  • Espacenet. This patent database provided by the European Patent Office covers patents from over 20 countries (including U.S.) and the World Patent Organization. Links to the full text of the patents and applications are provided.
  • NASA Technical Report Server (NTRS): NASA's current and historical technical literature, providing access to approximately 500K aerospace related citations, 90K full-text online documents, and 111K images and videos. The type of information found in NTRS includes: conference papers, images, journal articles, photos, meeting papers, movies, patents, research reports, and technical videos.
  • National Renewable Energy Labratory Publications Database: Contains bibliographic information about publications developed or written by NREL staff and subcontractors. Publications from 1977 to the present on subjects related to renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. Many publications are available electronically as Adobe Acrobat PDFs.
  • National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP): This site is EPA’s Complete site for accessing EPA publications, with more than 7,000 in stock and 28,000 digital titles, free of charge! EPA’s print publications are available through the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), and EPA’s digital publications are stored in the National Environmental Publications Internet Site (NEPIS) database! You can search and retrieve, download, print and/or order only EPA publications from this site.
  • National Technical Reports Library. Provides indexing to a collection of more than 2.2 million historical (pre-1900) to current U.S. government-sponsored technical reports archived by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Over 700,000 documents are available in full-text format. Subject coverage includes engineering, computer science, transportation, medicine, biology, energy, communications, agriculture, and more.
  • Science Accelerator, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Department of Energy. Search collections of DOE research results, project descriptions, and accomplishments. These collections enable you to find out about ongoing research projects, explore significant DOE discoveries, learn about DOE Nobel Prize Winners, access and search scientific e-prints, locate science conference papers and proceedings, and more.
  • SciTech Connect. Portal to free, publicly available DOE research and development (R&D) results; contains over sixty-five years of energy-related citations created and/or collected by OSTI. There are over 2.5 million citations, including citations to 1.4 million journal articles, 364,000 of which have digital object identifiers (DOIs) linking to full-text articles on publishers’ websites. SciTech Connect also has over 313,000 full-text DOE sponsored STI reports; most of these are post-1991, but close to 85,000 of the reports were published prior to 1990. SciTech Connect includes technical reports, bibliographic citations, journal articles, conference papers, books, multimedia, and data information sponsored by DOE through a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or similar type of funding mechanism from the 1940s to today.
  • United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) Web Patent Database: Includes over 7 million patent documents. For patents from 1976 to the present it provides searching by classification system, title and abstract words, inventor and company name and many other fields. For patents prior to 1976 you must search by patent number or the classification system. Once a patent number is identified, use to print a pdf of the patent document. Important note about USPTO access: Fogler Library has two on-site databases for searching patents that are better than the USPTO web database. In order to use these databases, you must visit Fogler and use the USPTO workstation located in the Science & Engineering Center. Call for an appointment if you want to learn more about using these special databases.

On the Web

The following websites include more information about technical reports: what they are, why they are important, and how to find them. There are some sources of technical reports on these pages that are not listed on this page, so it may be worth your time to skim over them.

Print Materials

Don't forget, not everything can be found on the Web! At the Science & Engineering Center you will find useful resources such as: Print Indexes (for searching journal articles too old to be included in online indexes); Industry Standards; and Subject-specific Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Handbooks. There are also many technical reports found on microfiche, film and in our printed Government Publications, Maps, GIS and Microforms collection.

Library Catalog

If the materials you seek are not available directly from the above databases, search URSUS by publication title to determine if Fogler Library owns the item.  We may own publications in print or electronically or in both formats. URSUS is the University of Maine System catalog.  Use the Request function to request items from other campuses.  Items are sent to Orono and loaned for 4 weeks.

What if I can't find it in URSUS?

  • If Fogler Library does not have the item you need either locally or electronically, consider requesting through Interlibrary Loan.
  • You can also search WorldCat to find other libraries that may have the item. This is the same catalog that Interlibrary Loan uses to locate items that we don't have.


These are only a few tools for finding information for your needs. Many other resources are available for students' use at the Science & Engineering Center on the 2nd floor of Fogler Library, and additional electronic journals and databases are accessible from the library's website. For a comprehensive listing of resources available for use in the Mechanical Engineering program, see the Mechanical Engineering subject guide.

If you need additional help, don't hesitate to contact us - that's what we're here for! There are many ways you can reach us:

Created by: Martin Wallace | Revised: 01/06/2014
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