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Congratulations to our spring 2024 graduates! 

Each semester we like to highlight our student workers who are graduating. This semester, our cohort of graduating student workers is four students strong.

CJ Brauns

Hometown: Coralville, Iowa 

Degree: Master of Arts in Library and Information Science 

Post-graduation plans: I’m currently applying for full-time library jobs. For now, I will continue to work at the Lichtenberger Engineering Library and the North Liberty Aquatic Center. 

 What’s one thing you learned from working at the Engineering Library? Academic libraries can be even louder than public libraries. 

Kendra Walton

Hometown: Deforest, Wisconsin 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering 

Post-graduation plans: Still looking for a job. 

What’s one thing you learned from working at the Engineering Library? I learned a lot about different tools and technology! 

Lucas Pieper

Hometown: Ankeny, Iowa 

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Finance with a minor in Sports and Recreation Management and Public Health Certificate 

Post-graduation plans: I have accepted a job with a commercial real estate brokerage company (Advocate Commercial Real Estate Advisors) as a client relationship associate in downtown Chicago, Illinois.   

What’s one thing you learned from working at the Engineering Library? One thing I learned while working at the Engineering Library is creative, on-the-spot problem solving. While not being an engineering major myself, I was constantly working to assist engineering majors. There were often times when they had a complex STEM-related issue that I did not know much about, but since I was working in the Engineering Library, I was able to help come up with fast and creative solutions to help solve those students’ problems. 

Wes Johnson

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering 

Post-graduation plans: Work at Crystal Group in Hiawatha, Iowa as an industrial engineer 

What’s one thing you learned from working at the Engineering Library? Over my time working in the library I learned how to navigate tough requests and questions, searching for a solution even when it wasn’t right in front of me. If I was really stuck, it was always a good bet to ask James [Cox]! 

Learn about the history of the Chia Pets trademark and make your own plant buddy 

While perusing a housewares trade show in San Francisco in 1980, advertising and marketing executive Joseph Pedott stumbled upon some curiously popular gifts: terra cotta planters shaped like rams that could be covered with Salvia hispanica (also known as “chia”) seeds. Pedott reached out to the inventor, Walter Houston, and purchased the rights. In 1982, he launched his own gadget company, Joseph Enterprises, brought the chia ram to market with the catchy “Ch-ch-ch-chia” jingle, which was later registered as a trademark by Joseph Enterprises in 2005. 

The year 2000 brought the first Chia Pets modeled on licensed intellectual properties including  Looney Toons, Homer Simpson, and Mr. T. While Chia Pets were popular before, the addition of beloved characters made them really take off. Today you can buy a classic Chia Pet, including a cute kitten, or grow a friend shaped like The Child from The Mandalorian, Willie Nelson, Wednesday Addams, and more!  

Create your own plant buddy with us! 

Monday, April 22, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., Seamans Center Student Commons 

Celebrate Earth Day and spring with us by building your own chia or cat-grass buddy! Learn how to create your own green “haired” creature and decorate them to match your style. Your buddy should be fully grown just in time to help you with finals! 

Learn More 2023. “About CHIA –” June 28, 2023. 

Traub, Alex. 2023. “Joseph Pedott, 91, Dies; Made Chia Pets an ‘As Seen on TV’ Sensation.” The New York Times. June 30, 2023. 

Vance, Allison. 2018. “86-year-old Joe Pedott, Promoter of the Chia Pet, Was Here for Commencement.” May 8, 2018.

The unsung hero of innovation: why data management is crucial in engineering 

In the world of engineering, a secret hero often goes unnoticed: data management. It might not be as glamorous as the latest design software or cutting-edge materials, but effective data management is the foundation for successful engineering projects. Here are a few reasons why data management is an important part of any engineer’s toolkit: 

  1. It reduces errors.  Engineering relies on accuracy. Data management ensures everything is centralized, organized, and accessible, minimizing errors and the need to rework. 
  2. It streamlines collaboration.  Engineering is a team sport. When multiple teams are working on a project, it is important to have a central hub for all your data. Data management systems allow everyone to access the latest information, streamlining communication and fostering collaboration. 
  3. Data insights aid innovation. Engineering data is a goldmine of insights. By effectively managing and analyzing this data, engineers can identify trends, optimize processes, and make data-driven decisions. 
  4. Management systems keep information secure. Data management systems help ensure that all relevant data is documented, archived, and readily available for audits, keeping your projects on the right side of regulations. 

Interested in finding out more? Join us on Wednesday, April 3, at noon for our upcoming training session, “Lunch and Learn: Better Data Management in 60 Minutes,” in person in 3111 Seamans Center or on Zoom. Lunch will be provided for in-person attendees. Sign up here to save your spot today!  

Sink your teeth into these Pi Day reads

Happy Pi Day (3/14)! Celebrate this captivating constant by reading some books on pi from our collection. There’s a book for every kind of pi fan.  

For the curious newcomer 

Π: a biography of the world’s most mysterious number by Alfred S. Posamentier & Ingmar Lehmann  

Written for non-mathematicians, the book aims to entertain while enhancing mathematical literacy. It invites readers to appreciate the beauty and intrigue of pi, transcending its simple numerical representation. Prepare to be amused by quirky examples of people’s fascination with pi. Did you know that there was even an attempt to legislate its exact value? The book uncovers such delightful anecdotes. 

The Pleasures of Pi,e and other interesting numbers by Yeo Adrian 

This book offers a delightful blend of mathematical exploration, historical context, and enjoyable storytelling. Whether you’re a math lover or someone who once dreaded math class, this book promises an engaging experience!  

For the mathematics enthusiast 

Visions of Infinity: The Great Mathematical Problems by Ian Stewart 

In this illuminating exploration, you’ll encounter historical enigmas like Fermat’s last theorem, which took centuries to crack, and the Poincaré conjecture, pivotal in understanding three-dimensional shapes. While some problems yield to modern techniques, others remain tantalizingly unsolved. 

An Equation for Every Occasion: fifty-two formulas and why they matter by John M. Henshaw 

From the famous E = mc² to lesser-known equations like those determining sunscreen SPF, this book reveals the power and utility of math, making it an entertaining read for anyone curious about the far-reaching impact of mathematics. 

For the mathematical historian 

Mathematician William Jones made geometry class easier with the use of the symbol “π” to represent the number then known as Archimedes Constant or even as “quantitas in quam cum multiflicetur diameter, proveniet circumferencia (the quantity which, when the diameter is multiplied by it, yields the circumference)”. The use of the symbol was popularized by influential mathematician Leonhard Euler. Learn more about Euler with these books: 


Leonhard Euler by Emil A. Fellmann 

Read about the life and times of this prodigiously productive mathematician. Follow his work from Basel to Petersburg to Berlin and learn about the people and places who shaped this man, who in turn shaped our modern world. 

Dr. Euler’s Fabulous Formula Cures Many Mathematical Ills by Paul J. Nahin 

This book shares the fascinating story of a groundbreaking formula that has long been regarded as the gold standard for mathematical beauty. This formula continues to inspire research, discussion, and even the occasional limerick. The book delves into the heart of complex number theory, exploring the many applications of complex numbers alongside intriguing stories from the history of mathematics. 

You can find these books and more in a special Pi Day display on the main floor of the Engineering Library. Drop by and check one out!  

And don’t worry, we’ve planned something special for after the break, too. Join us on March 18 for our Pi Day celebration. We will have individually wrapped apple pie bites (available while supplies last) and you can join us between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Seamans Center Student Commons to make your own zoetrope! 

No time wasted: What is Leap Day, anyway?

Every four years, the Gregorian calendar gives us an interesting phenomenon called a “leap year.” The result? Countries that follow the Gregorian calendar end up with an extra day on the calendar: Feb. 29.

So why does this chronological quirk hit every four years? It actually takes Earth 365.242190 days to orbit the sun, leaving an “overflow” of five hours and 49 minutes. As Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told NPR, “…that .242190 days to go around the sun is the entire reason why we have a leap year.”

The Gregorian calendar we use today began by papal decree in 1582, and the first Leap Day took place in 1584. In London in 1751, Aaron Hawkins wrote a pamphlet explaining the mathematical basis for the leap year and the need to make up for the five hours and 49 minutes that go uncounted in an ordinary year. 

Both the 16th-century pope and his 18th-century champion were unknowingly preventing a headache for future computer scientists, who now benefit from their precision when programming systems.

Now to shake things up a bit: leap years don’t always occur every four years. The rules are actually slightly more complicated:

  • If the year is evenly divisible by four, it is a leap year, unless
  • …the year is also evenly divisible by 100, in which case it is not a leap year, unless
  • …the same year is also divisible by 400, in which case it is a leap year.

This means that programmers have to create a leap year function that takes a single integral argument (the year) and determines whether the year is a leap year. If programmers did not take this into account when setting up systems, it would throw off entire programs every four years, with a cumulative effect over time. 

In theory, the need for leap years is not limited to Earth; if humanity ever settles on Mars, for example, we’ll have to hash things out all over again. But our calendar says that’s a problem for another day.

Engineering Open: Minigolf Design Challenge 2024 Results!

We had a fantastic time trying out all the new fairways at the teams created for the Engineering Open on Friday, Feb 23. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all who joined us! Whether or not you took home one of our 3D-printed trophies, you’re all champions to us, and this tradition is definitely here to stay.


The 2024 winners were:

1st place: Lichtenberger Engineering Library

2nd place: Continental Crossings

3rd place: Mechanical Engineering

People’s Choice: Continental Crossings & Civil Engineering


Special thanks to our sponsors, College of Engineering NEXUS, Engineering Technology Center (Machine Shop & Electronic Shop), and the Lichtenberger Engineering Library.

Find your next read by checking out Blind Date with a Book at Lichtenberger Engineering Library

Get a jump on your reading goals in a fun and surprising way with our Blind Date with a Book. You can check out a surprise book by visiting the main floor of the Lichtenberger Engineering Library and finding the Blind Date with a Book shelf in front of the wooden wall. If you have trouble finding it, just ask at the service desk.

All the books are individually wrapped with a fun clue on a tag. Here are the tags from a few of the available books:

  • A photographic chronicle of America’s favorite pastime
  • Magic, rebellion, dukes, and epic battles!
  • Get crafty with a very common crafting material
  • A thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel romantic-musical-comedy-epic

Interested? These mysterious items and more are available. Come in today to pick one up!

Feb. 7 InnoConnect networking event brings JPEC to Lichtenberger Engineering Library

Unlock the power of collaboration! The Lichtenberger Engineering Library is partnering with the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’ (JPEC) to bring you InnoConnect: Uniting Minds in Business and Tech. This brand-new, two-hour speed networking event on Wednesday, Feb. 7 is designed for aspiring innovators and budding entrepreneurs.

Not sure where to start? That’s fine—attendees don’t have to bring a full business plan or a completely developed idea to participate, just an open mind and an interest in collaboration.  

We caught up with Jay Cooper, director of the Undergraduate Student Incubator at JPEC, to learn more about this upcoming event. Learn more about Jay’s vision for the future of this partnership from the brief Q&A below.

How does JPEC work to support student entrepreneurship on campus?
JPEC facilitates entrepreneurial success for students through our programs and our partnerships. We have several programs, both on and off campus, which revolve around helping people solve problems for the greater community. Our undergraduate, graduate, and faculty incubator programs help those at all stages learn how to start up through classroom activities and connections to entrepreneurs and creatives throughout the state of Iowa.

What is the goal of the InnoConnect program?
My hopes for this program are to build connections between non-technical and technical people in order to build great things. There are a lot of great potential partnerships on this campus – I’m hoping to increase the number of creative collisions that occur by bringing together people who may not traditionally cross paths.

Who should make sure to attend?

The target audience for this event is individuals who enjoy building solutions to problems but don’t consider themselves “business people.” Idea people are a dime a dozen; creators, inventors, and builders are much harder to find.

Ready to sign up? Visit the official event page to reserve your spot. Space is limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

ACM open access agreement extended for University of Iowa authors

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Read-and-Publish Agreement for Open Access Continuity

The University of Iowa Libraries is pleased to announce the extension of the Read-and-Publish agreement with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) for three more years (now effective through Dec. 31, 2026). Through the agreement, all corresponding authors affiliated with the University of Iowa will have their research articles published open access in perpetuity in ACM journals, conference proceedings, and magazines, at no cost to the authors. In addition, the university community will continue to receive unlimited and unrestricted access to all content in the ACM Digital Library.

What should UI corresponding authors consider when assigning publication rights to ACM?

Since ACM already terminated transfer of copyright, authors will retain all rights to their work. UI corresponding authors should choose the “Institutional Paid Open Access/Permissions Release” option. This “Permissions Release” option means that a corresponding author agrees to grant ACM non-exclusive permission to publish their work in the ACM Digital Library and make it open access.

If you embrace the idea of sharing and distributing knowledge, we recommend using a Creative Commons license on the published version of your work. A Creative Commons license enables others to share and use your work provided that attribution is given to you, the author. For more information about a Creative Commons license, check out ACM’s Creative Commons Licensing Options.

How many research articles were made open access by UI corresponding authors from 2021–2023?

A total of 30 articles, including 24 conference proceedings and 6 journal articles, were open access during the period of 2021–2023. Two thirds of these corresponding authors were from computer science, but it’s exciting to see that faculty, students, staff and researchers in education, engineering, business, and geography are more frequently publishing with ACM. All these articles are now showcased within the featured collection of “UI Libraries Support Open Access” in the Iowa Research Online (UI’s institutional repository).

To learn about another open access agreement, this time from the Royal Society of Chemistry, check out this blog post.

What’s in store this semester at the Engineering Library

Welcome back! We’re happy to see you again. Here are a few events you can get involved in this semester with the Engineering Library: 

Join a team today for the Engineering Open: Mini Golf Design Challenge!  

The Mini Golf Design Challenge is back! Get creative and join a design team to build a mini golf hole themed around your team’s interest. The event will take place on the afternoon of Friday, Feb.23.  Sign-ups to be on a team are now open.  Individuals who are looking to be on a team can fill out the form here to sign up and be organized by department to work on a fairway. We will have up to 12 fairways in total, six fairways for each of the six departments, plus six additional groups and teams. The additional fairways are for university-recognized clubs and groups that are affiliated with the College of Engineering. If you are affiliated with a club or team and would like to build a fairway, please email with your organization’s name and team members. Team space is limited and first come, first served.   

Begin a new venture in the new year! 

Unlock the power of collaboration by joining our two-hour speed-networking event tailored for aspiring innovators and budding entrepreneurs. Whether you’re studying business, computer science, or engineering, this is your chance to connect with like-minded undergraduate students. Bring your entrepreneurial spirit and ideas, or simply showcase your expertise – everyone is welcome! Just bring a passion for innovation and a desire to find potential business partners. Let’s create synergies that could shape the future of entrepreneurship together! This event is sponsored by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and the Lichtenberger Engineering Library. Sign up to reserve your spot today. 

Pop-Up Workshops 

Give your brain a break and get creative for a few minutes with monthly themed crafts. These activities should only take you about 10-20 minutes to complete. Stop by at any time during the two hours, to take a break and let your creative juices flow.