ME 4054W: Design Projects

This guide provides resources you might find helpful for completing your capstone design project.

Search tips

You will need to search in different places to find different types of information.


The following search tips tend to work across different databases: 

  • Use the word AND to link concepts together: surgical AND robot
  • Use the word OR with parentheses to search for synonyms: surgical AND robot AND (precision OR minimally invasive)
  • Use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase: “soft tissue”
  • Use an asterisk to search for multiple endings of a root word: prosthes* - to find prosthesis, prostheses, prosthetics, etc.

When searching Google, try adding the following to your topical keywords:

  • site:gov, or site:edu, etc.: get results from that specific site type/domain
  • filetype:pdf: get only PDFs as results - these can be more in-depth than webpage content
  • Add keywords for the type of source you are looking for, for example: data, statistics, report

There is no one perfect search! Change around your search terms, and search in multiple places. 

Find background information

Find science and engineering scholarly literature

Note that Google Scholar is a search engine, not a database. The databases listed above actively index the content within, making for better searching. Please do not rely solely on Google Scholar.

Find standards

Learn about standards:


Search for standards:


More help with finding standards:

Find patents

Use Zotero to manage & format citations

Zotero is a free, open-source citation manager that:

  • imports and organizes citations and PDFs;
  • recognizes and creates citations for wide range of file types;
  • formats citations in thousands of styles including APA and Chicago;
  • easily adds in-text citations to Word and Google Doc documents, and creates a bibliography from those citations;
  • allows you to add notes to your citation information for later use.

Off-campus access to library resources

Current University students, staff and faculty should be able to get full text and online access to the University Libraries from anywhere. Here are three ways to access the library full text from off campus.

  1. Search the University of Minnesota library website. Log in with your UMN Internet ID and password to access resources.
  2. Log in using the U of M Virtual Private Network (VPN). You will need to download it VPN software to your computer from campus OIT (Office of Information Technology).
  3. Install the Libraries' Proxy Bookmarklet to your browser and click it to reload the page with your U of M login to get access to full text. Watch a proxy bookmarklet video (3 min) to learn more. 

View examples and learn more on our How to get to full text from on and off campus Guide.

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2024 4:44 PM