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Updated Mar 22, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Using Your Notebook


Mark Henderson
ASU Polytech Engineering


Introduction: Da Vinci’s Notebooks

Leonardo kept notebooks as a private journal, intentionally censoring his work from those who might irresponsibly use it (the tank, for instance). While most of Leonardo's inventions were not realized, many were technologically feasible as it was demonstrated recently.


Figure 1: A page from one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks


Figure 2: Leonardo da Vinci's design of a tank


Figure 3: Leonardo da Vinci's tank design was finally implemented many centuries after his death.

Engineering Notebooks

Uses of engineering notebooks:

  • For Class Notes
  • For Laboratory Data
  • For Inventions
  • As a Diary/Meeting Notes

Figure 4: Cover of the Engineering notebook


Figure 5: Inside Cover of the Engineering notebook


Figure 6: Instruction Page in the Engineering notebook


Figure 7: Table of Contents of the Engineering notebook


Figure 8: Pages from the the Engineering notebook


 Here are instructions from a company on how engineers are to keep their notebook:
  • Write EVERYTHING Down, even include a dentist appointment; that's what helps make it a believable Legal Document.
  • So keep the notebook up to date and have it witnessed often by those whom you trust, and understand your work.
  • This can mean the difference between Owning the Patent Rights to your Work, or NOT!
  • Also, it can jog the old memory and reduce the number of times you do the same tests. "...gee, have I already done that..."
  • Of course, It Don't Hurt when Final Reports are Due!

So anticipate the patent application process: use a legally and scientifically accepted format:

  • Use a Bound (stitched binding) notebook. DO NOT use a loose leaf or Spiral bound notebook!
  • Entries Should be in Permanent Ink--Not Pencil.
  • The Title, Project Number, and Book Number should be accurately recorded when starting a New Page.
  • All data is to be recorded directly into the notebook.
    • The inclusion of all elaborate details is preferable.
    • Notes and calculations should be done in the notebook, NOT on loose paper.
    • In the case of an error, draw a single line through the incorrect data.
    • Do Not Erase or use correction fluid.
    • All corrections should be initialed and dated.
  • After entering your data, sign and date all entries.
    • Witness or witnesses should sign and date each entry.
    • The witness must observe the work that is done, and have sufficient knowledge to understand what they read.
    • Names of all who were present during any demonstration should also be recorded.
  • Use Both sides of a Page.
    • Never leave any White Space: "X" out or Crosshatch all unused space, and don't forget to initial and date same.
  • All contents of the notebook should be kept strictly Confidential.
    • It should be kept in a Protected place to safeguard against Loss.

Your Personal ASU Engineering Notebook

Obviously, we think using a notebook is important. Keeping an engineering notebook is a good engineering habit. You can use it for engineering and other courses for:

  • class notes,
  • project notes,
  • team meetings,
  • daily to-do lists,
  • appointments,
  • ideas,
  • sketches,
  • calculations,
  • equations,
  • flow charts

Periodically update the table of contents. Date every entry. For IP material, have a witness sign the page.

When it’s full, get another one and keep them in date order on your shelf to document your college experience. We expect you to have your notebook at every class and have it out, open with a pen or pencil.

Our Expectations for Your Engineering Notebook

  • Team Project Notes: Write and keep your notes for the team projects such as robots, bridges, wind tower, etc. Include, for example:
    • Problem statement,
    • Task lists and status
    • Team meeting minutes
    • Design ideas
    • Equation and model development
    • Test results
  • Exam Material: Keep important material that would be useful on an oral examination. You can bring your notebook to the exam.
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