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Turkey Day Patents

Happy Thanksgiving! Have you ever thought about all of the intellectual property that goes into your Thanksgiving feast? From roasting ovens to catchy jingles, intellectual property is everywhere.

Have you ever gotten stuck on mashed-potato duty and just couldn’t bring yourself to do all that boiling and mashing? This Automatic Mashed Potato System could be just the thing you’re looking for! Just put in potatoes and water and this machine will boil, mash, and season the perfect spuds just for you. The potatoes will still need to be peeled by hand.

Remembering to baste the turkey while juggling the rest of the cooking can be difficult. This fancy roasting pan patented by Joseph Mathy in 1906 can help! Specially designed to encourage steaming, is pan will ensure your turkey stays moist while you’re putting together the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Should you leave the leaves? Check out these selections from the Engineering Library to see for yourself

Fall is a beautiful time but very few people enjoy raking all of the beautiful leaves that collect on their lawns. Experts now say that raking every single leaf may not be necessary. When left in place, leaves serve as habitat for several types of wildlife, retain moisture in your yard, and can even help suppress next year’s weeds!

If you have a very thick layer of leaves all over your yard, consider raking most of them and composting the ones that you pick up or moving them to a garden bed to work as a natural mulch. If you have a moderate layer (50% of yard cover), you can run your lawn mower over them to help them break down more easily but otherwise leave them in place. If you have a scattering of leaves on your lawn, you can just “leaf” them alone!

Want to learn more about the ecosystem in your own backyard? Check out these books from the Engineering Library collection:

Learn all about the impact of trees on the world in The Tree by Colin Tudge

The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They  Matter eBook : Tudge, Colin -

Interested in skipping the grass altogether? Check out Lawn Gone! by Pam Penick. Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive  Alternatives for Your Yard: 9781607743149: Penick, Pam: Books

Want to learn other ways you can engineer using the world around you? You may like Organic Management for the Professional by Garrett, Ferguson, and Amaranthus. Organic Management for the Professional: The Natural Way for Landscape  Architects and Contractors, Commercial Growers, Golf Course Managers, Park  ... Turf Managers, and Other Stewards of the Land: 9780292729216: Garrett,  Howard,


Alfuth, Diana. “Leave the Leaves. to Rake or Not to Rake?” Wisconsin Horticulture, 13 Sept. 2023,

Bauer, Sam. “Good Question: Do You Really Need to Rake All Those Leaves?” Good Question: Do You Really Need to Rake All Those Leaves?, University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science,

Chiu, Allyson. “Why You Should Be Lazy and Leave Your Leaves in the Yard.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Oct. 2023,

Doubek, James. “Why Experts Say You Shouldn’t Bag Your Leaves This Fall.” NPR, NPR, 25 Oct. 2022,

Tumin, Remy. “Why You Don’t Need to Rake Leaves.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2023,

Happy Open Access Week!

This week is Open Access Week! If you are totally new to the world of Open Access, check out the Open Scholarship Toolkit here. In short, Open Access is the free, immediate, online available of learning materials, research, and creative work. Here are some ways that the University Libraries can help you learn and utilize Open Access: 

University of Iowa affiliated authors can publish in Open Access journals without paying Article Processing Charges (APCs) using the Open Access Agreements negotiated by the University Libraries! We have existing agreements with Wiley, IEEE, Cambridge, and more, along with other agreements and APC discounts. Read more about Open Access Agreements and see the full list here. 

Open Engineering Textbooks are available for a wide range of disciplines including many core engineering subjects. Check out the collection of Open Access textbooks compiled by the Engineering Library Division of ASEE here. 

The University Libraries offer OpenHawks funding for instructors to replace their current textbooks with Open Educational Resources (OER). Various award levels are available for multiple levels of OER adoption and creation. Find details and deadlines here. 

Vote for People’s Choice in Capture Your Research Competition!

Vote for your favorite entry in our Capture Your Research: Image Competition!

The submissions will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize in each of the categories for undergraduate, graduate student, or faculty/staff/researcher based on a panel of judges. But, there is also a 4th category that is called People’s Choice. Who wins this award is up to you! Cast your vote here. Voting will close on October 29th.

Come see the winning entries at the Capture Your Research Awards Ceremony and reception, Thursday, November 9th, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm in the Old Capitol Museum.  To see more about the competition, visit here.  

Capture Your Research Submission Deadline is Approaching!

We are so excited to bring back our Capture Your Research art competition! For this competition, students, faculty, and staff can submit one image that sums up their research. In the past we have had entries that were traditional photography, microscopic photography, digital art, drawing, and more!

Get inspired by past submissions here and see full rules and submit your own artwork here! There are four categories for judging: undergraduate, graduate students, faculty/researcher, and people’s choice.

This competition is open to all students, faculty, and staff of the University of Iowa, not just those in the College of Engineering! We would love to see art from all over our campus. Submissions are due by October 8th. Submit your entry today!

Below are a few entries from our 2020 competition to inspire your own entries.

An image of a gloved hand holding a piece of scientific equipment to collect particles for research. The piece of equipment is four metal plates stacked on top of each other with space in between each one.
Nanofibers in Air by Matthew Nagorzanski
A researcher in a lab coat writes on a desk while standing next to a spinning centrifuge with bright colors.
A Researcher Determined by Patrick Henkhaus
A black and white microscopic photograph of an unknown organism.
Anonymity by Evie Holyoake

New Study Aids Available!

This summer we added a new category of tools to our tool library: Study Aids. These tools aim to reduce stress, manage time, and help with your study habits. They are available from the Engineering Library service desk for one-week checkout. If you have any needs or ideas for an additional study aid tool, let us know!

Light Box

Light Therapy Box with 10,000 Lux Brightness, UV-Free Light. 3 levels of brightness, countdown timer, and detachable stand. Light boxes are designed to deliver a therapeutic dose of bright light. Can be helpful in treating depression (especially seasonal effective disorder), and reestablishing a healthy sleep schedule.

A photograph of a white light box
Reader Pen

Scan full sentences or single words of printed text and listen to it being read out automatically via AI-based text recognition. The reader pen can define & read aloud the meaning of any word using built in dictionaries. No external app or internet access is required. 3.5mm headphone jack for use with ear buds or headphones. Helpful for people with dyslexia or who learn better by hearing. 

Productivity Timer

This hexagonal timer helps you break up your work into 5, 15, 30, 45, or 60 minute intervals and can be used silently or with an alarm. Simply turn the timer so your desired interval is on top and get to work! Can be helpful for people with ADHD, time-blindness or lots of projects to manage at once.

Weighted Lap Pad

A lap pad is a sensory tool used to improve attention, focus, and ability to relax by applying pressure on a user’s legs. This 5 pound lap pad can be helpful for people with ADHD, anxiety, or trouble focusing.

Wobble Cushion

Wobble cushion can assist with focus and attention as it provides sensory input which increases body awareness. Each side has a different texture for additional sensory input. It can be used on a chair or on the ground.

2022-2023 Academic Year In Review

In the last year we:

  • Were open 2,080.5 hours
  • Welcomed 83,788 visitors
  • Taught 89 workshops and instruction sessions, reaching 1,305 people
  • Added 5,143 plant patents to our collections
  • Checked out calculators 207 times
  • Were designated a Patent and Trademark Resource Center by the United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • Reached at total of 16,907 on Twitter and Instagram
  • and more!

See the full infographic below to see what else we did this year.

An infographic detailing accomplishments of the Lichtenberger Engineering Library over the 2022-2023 academic year

These 6 books detail the key role of engineering in both of this weekend’s blockbusters

You may have heard there are a couple of big movies coming to theaters this weekend: Barbie and Oppenheimer. Read up more on these two world-changers before you see the movies!


By Vare - Patently Female: 8580000485066: Books

Barbara Millicent Roberts (Barbie) was released in 1959 and invented by Ruth Handler. You can read about Handler in Patently Female: from AZT to TV dinners. (Check out our Untold Stories in STEM collection for more inventions by women, people of color, and other historically underrepresented groups in STEM).

One of the most strongest parts of the Barbie brand is Mattel’s management of their intellectual property. Learn about patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property in our Patents LibGuide. The Lichtenberger Engineering Library is a Patent and Trademark Resource Center! Keep an eye out on our social media channels so you know when our next intellectual property workshop is coming up.

Plastics: Materials and Processing (3rd Edition): 9780131145580: Strong, A. Brent: Books -

Back to the technical side of things, Barbies are created using a process called rotational molding. If you want to read about that and other plastics, check out Plastics: materials and processing.

If you’d like to look at some pretty Barbie dresses (who doesn’t?) you can check out Barbie: what a doll! from our friends over at the Art Library. We can even have it brought over to the Engineering Library for you to pick up using Interlibrary Loan.


The Manhattan Project" is Kindle Book of the Day! - Nuclear Museum

Oppenheimer the film primarily focuses on his time working on the Manhattan Project, also known as the project to build the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project gives the reader an inside look at the project, using writings from the people who worked on it.

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era: 9781451660432: Nelson, Craig: Books -

The discoveries of the Atomic Age also had a far-reaching cultural impact. Read more in The Age of Radiance.

We’ll finish things off with a couple of Oppenheimer biographies. Learn about Oppenheimer’s professional relationships in Einstein and Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer lived 21 years after the Trinity Test. Read about the rest of his life in A Life in Twilight: the final years of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Which movie are you going to see first?

Kozak wins Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award

Kari receiving her award. Bernhardt Award recipients get to wear a groovy hat, then add a pin from their institution and hand it on to the next awardee.

Last week we attended the annual conference of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) where Lichtenberger Engineering Library Director Kari Kozak was awarded with the Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award by the Engineering Libraries Division (ELD).

From the Association Society of Engineers – Engineering Libraries Division:

The ASEE ELD 2023 Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award goes to Kari Kozak of the University of Iowa. The Committee received an impressive nomination package for Ms. Kozak detailing her accomplishments and contributions and we unanimously agreed that she is this year’s recipient.

The Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award recognizes contributions to the advancement and development of excellence in engineering libraries. As the nominating letter stated, “Kari’s contributions [to ELD] would dwarf what most…members strive for. “This announcement, therefore, will only be able to cover a sampling of Ms. Kozak’s achievements and contributions, but be assured, it goes well beyond what follows. Another letter detailed the seventeen (17!) intellectual contributions Kari has made to ASEE annual conferences in the past ten years. These include papers, posters, lightning talks, and moderating sessions. She also won the Best Poster Award in 2019 for her poster, “The Great Coffee Hunt: An Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt.”

Beyond intellectual contributions, Kari has been a dedicated leader in the division, recently wrapping up the four-year officer track (secretary/treasurer, program chair, division chair, past chair/nominating committee chair). If that doesn’t paint the picture for you of her commitment and enthusiasm, just take last year at the ASEE 2022 Annual Conference in Minneapolis where Ms. Kozak “was division chair, she presented a paper at a technical session, presented a lightning talk, moderated a session, and led the annual business meeting. All in one conference!”

When discussing Ms. Kozak’s nomination, the committee recalled the overwhelming task of switching the 2021 Annual Conference to an online setting. While we had met virtually in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ASEE had initially intended the 2021conference to be back in person. However, due to various circumstances, the 2021 conference also was held virtually. The conference planning committee did a fantastic job of it overall, and we fondly remembered the wonderful details that Kari employed to keep the spirit of the ELD group. She worked with Hema Ramachandran (an awards committee member and Long Beach, California area resident) to identify and purchase a local treat that could be sent to ELD attendees (as the 2021 conference was set to take place in Long Beach that year). Kari worked tirelessly to create the typical atmosphere the ELD group experiences at the Annual Conference but in a virtual setting. And she absolutely succeeded! This is just yet another example of her amazing devotion to ELD.

However, as one letter pointed out, the “Bernhardt Award criteria aren’t focused solely on contributions to ASEE/ELD” and “Kari’s contributions to engineering librarianship go well beyond her ELD-related work.” Therefore it should come as no surprise that Ms. Kozak has had a tremendous impact as a librarian at the University of Iowa and beyond. She has been the Director of the Lichtenberger Engineering Library since 2012. In addition, she has been a leader in TRAIL (Technical Report Archive and Library), STELLA(Science, Technology, and Engineering Library Leaders in Action), and Atmospheric Science Librarians International. She has been on advisory boards for ASME, IEEE, ASTM, and Engineering Village. Multiple letters of support from University of Iowa faculty members were provided as part of the nomination package. They touch upon her teaching, as well as her commitment to innovative spaces and programs for engineering students. To name a few, she created the Engineering Tools Library, the Creative Space Room, and the Kick-Start Fund. Her letters of support from colleagues at Iowa use words and phrases like “amazed,” “blown away,” “devoted,” and “an invaluable resource,” to name a few. The Committee agrees wholeheartedly with these descriptions of Kari and her work. Kari, as the nominating letter concludes, is truly “an exceptional and outstanding librarian.”

Congratulations, Kari, for demonstrating the epitome of what “distinguished service” to ELD and beyond looks like!