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Lecture Notes - Engineering Design Notebook Engineering Design Notebook on Final Year Project

Mechanical Engineering
Course Code
Sanjeev Bedi
Study Guide

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Engineering Design Projects
The Design Notebook
Each student is required to maintain a design notebook for this course. It will be collected
at the end of the semester to help me evaluate what you contributed to the design. Use a
bound notebook rather than a 3-ring binder. Binders are too messy and are not accepted
by the courts as evidence, should what you are working on ever result in a patent.
What should you put in your design notebook? The final report documents your design,
but your notebook tells how you got there. Your design notebook is a record of
everything you have done in developing your design. Use it as a diary to record how you
spent your hours on the project. The design notebook is NOT a place for course lecture
notes. Use another notebook for that.
Your design notebook should include information such as:
Brainstorming sketches.
Information gathering phone calls. Make sure you record the date, the name of the
person you spoke to, his or her title and company and the telephone number.
Reference material from the library or the web. Record title, author and call
number in case you have get it again.
Parts lists.
Model numbers of all competing parts that you could use in your design
Cost estimations.
Assembly steps.
Go for volume. If you are really working hard on this project, you will be filling in the
neighborhood of 10 pages each week. It is not unusual to fill one notebook and be
starting on a second before the end of the course. Try to think visually with regard to
your notebooks. It should include thumbnail sketches of ideas, free-body diagrams,
design process and the like. Again, volume is the key.
Organize the notebook chronologically and be sure to date each entry. Dating is very
important if you want to follow up on a phone call or if the Patent Office wants evidence
on exactly when you came up with your wonderful invention. Number the pages. That
way you can write cross-referencing notes like, "See page 23 for other info on cylinders".
Don't erase anything. If you don't like what you have, cross it out with a large X that
will let you see what's underneath. This is important because you may wish to refer back
to idea in the future. It will also allow to see your mistakes and not make them twice.
Use lots of white space to separate entries. This will make it much easier to scan it for
information later.
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Write everything in the notebook rather than on separate slips of paper. However, if you
do end up with calculations or notes on scraps of paper, tape the scrap right in the
notebook. Keep your notebook with you at all times so you can record that brilliant idea
on the spot. Some of your best thinking may happen in the middle of the night or during
the Osbornes. Architects and artists always carry a sketchpad with them and are sketching
throughout the day. Engineers would do well to mimic them.
Periodically include an assessment of the current state of your project. A well-defined
statement or diagram can significantly improve the documentation of the design process.
Write your name, phone number and e-mail address (and any other identifying
information you wish to include) inside the front cover of your notebook. If it is ever lost
you will want it returned as quickly as possible.
Keep your notebook neat. Do not use it as a coaster or to set your pizza on. Assume that
your boss is going to read it to determine how big a raise you get. Finally, remember that
what you include in your notebook is not just for you, but for others as well.
For more information on keeping a design notebook, you may wish to visit:
Following are several samples of notebook pages:
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