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M E 415: Mechanical Systems Design

Learn about tools for finding articles, books, standards, and prior art for the Mechanical Engineering capstone design class. This guide also includes tips and techniques engineering students need to know for conducting successful library research.

Accessing library resources

Use your ISU net ID and password to access library resources. If you don't currently start your research at the Library website, you may want to consider adopting that particular habit -- you'll be much less likely to run into websites demanding $40 or more for access to a single article that way.

Alternatively, if the resource you've found has an institutional login option or allows authentication through OpenAthens, you can typically use that to log in with your ISU net ID and password. However, this method does not guarantee that the ISU Library actually provides access to the item you want, only that you can authenticate and gain access to any items on that site that are part of the library's subscriptions.

ISU Library subscriptions will cover the vast majority of sources you will want to use, but we are unfortunately not able to provide instantaneous access to all items. (Use Interlibrary Loan to request digital copies of items not covered by library subscriptions.)

Your best bet for getting the fastest access is to start with the Library website and log in when requested (or when the option is available) so that the resources you use know you're affiliated with ISU and should benefit from our subscriptions.

Reporting problems

If you encounter problems with access, please send your librarian a report including:

  • What you were trying to access
  • What happened
  • What browser you were using at the time

We'll do our best to troubleshoot for you and make sure you get access to what you need ASAP.

Google Scholar

Connecting Google Scholar to the Library will add "Viewit@ISU" links to your search results. Clicking these links will prompt you to sign in to the Library and then query our collection. If the Library subscribes to the item you are looking for, you should be directed to the service that will let you access it.

  • Go to
    • You can perform these steps without a Google Account but signing in will save your changes so that they work across multiple devices.
  • Click the icon showing three horizontal bars on the top left of the webpage.
  • From this menu click Settings and then click Library links.
  • In the search box on the Library links page, enter iowa state
  • You’ll see three different options. Check the box for Iowa State University - ViewIt@ISU.
  • Click Save.

LibKey Nomad

LibKey Nomad is a browser extension that simplifies and streamlines access to the ISU Library's subscription resources. Adding this extension to your browser enables one-click access to full text of articles from publisher pages, PubMed, Google, Wikipedia, and more, with no need to start at the library website. If direct access is not available, it automatically loads and fills out the Interlibrary Loan request form for you.