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Electrical Engineering & Computer Science: Engineering Design & The Library

General guide to resources for electrical engineering and computer science.

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Engineering Design & Library

The library can help during two of the engineering design steps: gathering information and communicating the solution.


Identify the Problem


Gather Information
Refine the Design
Develop Concepts
Test & Evaluate
Build a Prototype


 Communicate the Solution



Gather Information

Gathering information and conducting research helps understanding the needs of the challenge to be addressed, discover what has already been done, and discover new information on the topic.

Professional engineers recognize  that information gathering is an integral part of the design process, and rate its importance above prototyping, testing, building and brainstorming (Mosberg et al ).

An integrated approach to gathering information consists of developing a research strategy, make use of all kinds of resources available, and develop a system for organizing information found.

The recommended steps in developing a research strategy are:

  • Identify concepts within your topic  

Read reference sources to get a quick overview of your topic and identify the concepts within your topics. Chose the concept(s) you want to do more research on.

  • Identify keywords and terms to use  
Make a list of keywords and phrases that define your concepts. Add synonyms, equivalent terms or variants. Combine these terms using Boolean operators (and, or, not), truncation, or wild card to best represent your topic.


  • Select sources and execute search  
Determine the appropriate types of information you need and then select the best resources for your informational needs and proceed with your search. Look at the search results and evaluate your query. It may be necessary to narrow or broaden your search, exclude terms, use different vocabulary. Adapt your query to the results you get and search again. Look for the terminology used for indexing and do a search based on it to search consistently for items related to your topic.


  • Keep track of the useful information you find
Use a reference management tool to efficiently keep track of the useful materials you found during research. These tools are also useful when writing by automatically creating bibliographies in a citation style of your choice.



Mosberg, Susan, Robin Adams, Rebecca Kim, Cynthia Atman, Jennifer Turns, and Monica Cardella. 2005. “Conceptions of the Engineering Design Process: An Expert Study of Advanced Practicing Professionals.” In Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition.