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ENGR339: Senior Design

Class research guide for ENGR339: Senior Design, curated by liaison librarian

Consult Your Liaison Librarian

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David Malone
Hekman Library 325A
1-616-526-6072 / ‪(616) 259-6497 (text)

Schedule a Consultation

All your research needs can't be addressed in one in-class lecture presentation. Your instructors have requested that each team schedule a consultation with Professor Malone. This meeting will help the team get started with the fact-finding portion of the project. The meetings are 30-minute blocks. A majority of the team members should be at the consultation.

  • Sign up early to get the best spot!
  • If the team found relevant sources, bring them to the meeting
  • Remember your consultation time - a reminder will not be sent!
  • Empty slots after 5pm will close once the first session begins

Consultations will take place between September 19 and October 2.


Getting Started with Research for ENGR339!

  • Need a review of Hekman Library basics? Check out this "Get Connected" guide or browse our How-to playlist on Youtube.
  • If you're off-campus, remember to start at the library homepage when connecting to databases and ebooks, so you'll be recognized as a Calvin user (when you're prompted to login, enter your Calvin username and passphrase).
  • Struggling with citations? For more help, see the library's longer Citation 101 guide or try using Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab)
  • Remember, engineers are people who solve problems and focus on making things work more efficiently and effectively -- apply that kind of dedication to analysis, planning, and  design to create relevant informational searches.

Tips for Searching

Not everyone likes to search, but everyone like to find. Here are some tips for efficient searching for successful finding:

  • Choose the right database, a precise tool that fits your needs rather than a multitool that may be too generic. Multi-tools are handy and useful for many jobs, but none of the multi-tool tools are as good as the real tool, and no professional would rely solely on a multi-tool. Similarly, Google is a handy and useful research tool, but not as good as the research tools available from the library. 
  • Begin with the assumption that the information you need is out there - somewhere. If you don't begin with this assumption, you'll quit too soon or be satisfied with inferior results.
  • Don't aim for the grand slam: You may have to break your search strategy into the smaller components that make up your project. 
    • Example Team Project: Developing a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) to assist scuba divers and allow for improved endurance, range and safety when diving. The vehicle has four primary systems: Power/Propulsion, Controls/Ergonomics, Buoyancy/Stability, and Hydrodynamic Design.
  • Research is not elegant or pretty - RE search. 
  • Language is imprecise; there are multiple ways of describing almost everything
    • Synonyms: drinking water, potable water / climatology, meteorology / pellets, briquettes 
    • Contextual synonyms: Project: Wastewater treatment in developing countries. Synonymous phrases for "developing countries": sustainable development, appropriate technology, rural, villages.
    • Contextual definitions: elasticity (building materials and economic markets), election (theology and politics) [danger of using an interdisciplinary database] 

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