Pi Day Celebration Tomorrow!

We love Pi Day! Traditionally Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (3/14), but since the students are on Spring Break that day, we’re celebrating a week early. Stop by the Engineering Library to get a FREE apple pie bite made by a local bakery while supplies last. 

Here are a few pi facts to get you excited for our favorite holiday:

  1. Because the exact value of pi can never be calculated, we can never find the exact area or circumference of a circle. 
  2. Albert Einstein was born on March 14th, 1879, but Pi Day was not celebrated until over 100 years later in 1988.
  3. Welsh mathematician William Jones was the first person to use the symbol for pi but it was popularized by Leonhard Euler (known for Euler’s number)

Do you have a fun pi fact? Tweet it to us, we’d love to hear it! 

Celebrate Engineers at Iowa!

It’s midterms and we’re all feeling a little… well we could use a break. From 1910 to the mid 1980’s, students here at the College of Engineering celebrated MECCA week to blow off some steam. MECCA was a student run organization that focused on celebrating engineers and having some fun (usually at the expense of the law students). MECCA stood for the five types of engineering at the time of its founding: Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Chemical, and Architectural. Because St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, MECCA week was always celebrated the week of St. Patrick’s Day and included parties, pranks, and the Hunt for the Blarney Stone.


Celebration was big during MECCA week. The whole week culminated in the MECCA ball, also known as the Smoker. At the Smoker, men could compete to be the King of Beards (sometimes dyed green), and a MECCA queen would be crowned. 

The party also made it onto the streets with MECCA week parades. With floats that poked fun at faculty, students, and the college of engineering, spectators were never sure what they would see coming down the street.


MECCA week was the time for pranks. Over the years pranks included a huge cement shamrock in the lawn of the law building, a green flag on the flagpole of the law building, green mice in the law building, and a manure spreader in the courtroom of the law building. We’re unsure of the source of the rivalry between the engineers and the law students, but the law students would get in on the fun too, including a bar marathon.

Hunt for the Blarney Stone

What’s more chaotic than a building full of engineers? A city-wide engineering scavenger hunt! During MECCA week students participated in the hunt for the Blarney Stone. Named for the Blarney Stone in Ireland, which is said to give the “gift of gab” to those who kiss it, the Iowa Blarney stone was hidden each year by the graduating class. Underclassmen were given clues in the form of engineering puzzles. The engineers were generally successful in their hunt, but not always. In 1912 and 1947 the stone was lost, and each of those classes were required to purchase a new stone. While no longer used for the hunt, the current stone is one purchased by the class of 1947 following their unsuccessful pursuit.

problem 2
Here is an example of the clues given for the Blarney Stone hunt. In addition to tricky clues, the stone could be placed anywhere in a 25 mile radius of Iowa City, making the possibilities nearly endless.


Students celebrate a successful Blarney Stone hunt

We still feel it’s important to recognize Engineers and everything they do for our world, and that’s why we’re celebrating E-Week this week! This year we’re bringing some pizazz to with the inaugural Engineering Open Mini-Golf Design Challenge. Drop by the Engineering Student Commons today (2/24) between 1 and 5 to join in.

Blind Date with a Book is Back!

Valentines Day is approaching and love is in the air – that’s why we have brought back our Blind Date with a Book event! All month long you can stop by by yourself, with a friend, or with a significant other and pick up your own to read.

Never tried out a Blind Date with a Book? Here’s what you can expect:

You’ll find the shelf of books by the wooden wall on the main floor of the library. Just walk in and turn left after the sand table. You’ll see a wooden shelf with a bright pink sign on the top (you really can’t miss it, but if you do just ask at the service desk!)

Each book is individually wrapped – do not unwrap the books! Read the tags and see what interests you. We have included a general category at the bottom to help you quickly narrow down your options (fiction, nonfiction, biography, graphic novel). Pick out something that interests you and bring it up to the desk. DON’T UNWRAP THE BOOK YET!

At the desk we will check out the book to you using the barcode on the back. NOW you can unwrap the book and see who your blind date is! We included a bookmark inside (or on the back in a few cases) for you to use while you’re reading your books. When you return the book, please do us a favor and fill out the back of that bookmark and return that to us as well. Blind Dates will be available all month long, so check out as many as you want! 

Publish with IEEE for FREE!

We kicked the year off with an exciting new transformative agreement with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). With this agreement University of Iowa authors have full access to IEEE’s Xplore Digital Library and can publish open access articles in all IEEE journals for free. IEEE publishes journals with topics that range from electrical engineering, computer science, biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence and more. 

What is a transformative agreement?

Transformative agreements are negotiated by institutions to make it easier for their affiliated researchers to publish their work. Academic publishing often requires authors to pay article processing charges (APCs) and result in articles behind a paywall. With a transformative agreement, institutions negotiate for full access to a journal’s content as well as the rights to publish a certain number of open access articles under one fee. You can find the whole list of transformative agreements and publishing discounts here.

How do I publish under a transformative agreement?

Get in touch with our Engineering Librarians or Scholarly Impact Department.

Welcome Back!

Welcome to the Spring 2023 semester! Here’s just a bit of what you can expect from us in the next few months:

As a reminder, all of our workshops are FREE but registration is required!

Soldering Workshop Series

Did you make a resolution to learn a new skill this year? Give soldering a try! Soldering is one of the most fundamental skills needed to explore the world of electronics. With this simple skill, you will gain a better understanding of electronics and be better equipped to create your own. Throughout this series you’ll learn the two main types of soldering, and at the end you’ll be able to create your own light-up pendant from scratch! You aren’t required to attend every session but it is highly recommended. Click the title of the workshop to register.

Soldering Basics: Through Hole -Wednesday, January 1, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)

Soldering Basics: Surface-Mount – Wednesday, February 8, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)

Build Your Own: LED Pendants – Wednesday, February 15, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)


Business Building Blocks

Get your business idea going with our new Business Building Blocks workshops! We will be offering each of these three workshops in three different locations (that’s 9 workshops total!). You can mix and match what works with your schedule and interests. Business Building Blocks workshops are presented by the University of Iowa Libraries and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Click on the title of the workshop to register.



Business Plan Basics – Tuesday, February 7, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Art Library DeCaso Room (ABW 235C)

Identifying Key Players in your Market: Introduction to Industry & Market Information Research – Tuesday, February 14, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)

Protecting Your Ideas: Introduction to Patents, Trademarks & Intellectual Property – Tuesday, February 21, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Sciences Library 3rd floor



Protecting Your Ideas: Introduction to Patents, Trademarks & Intellectual Property – Tuesday, March 7, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Art Library DeCaso Room (ABW 235C)

Business Plan Basics – Tuesday, March 21, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)

Identifying Key Players in your Market: Introduction to Industry & Market Information Research – Tuesday, March 28, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Sciences Library Third Floor


Identifying Key Players in your Market: Introduction to Industry & Market Information Research – Tuesday, April 4, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Art Library DeCaso Room (ABW 235C)

Protecting Your Ideas: Introduction to Patents, Trademarks & Intellectual Property – Tuesday, April 11, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)


Other Workshops

Are you participating in the Research Open House this year? Learn think about the prospective audience, poster content, and design considerations that go into your poster layout in our Creating a Research Poster workshop, Tuesday, March 30, 3:30 pm – 4:20 pm in the Engineering Library Creative Space (2001C SC)

There will be more workshops and events coming up, so make sure to keep in the loop by following our Twitter and Instagram for the latest news!

Graduate Profile: Mary Kelly

We’re nearing the end of the semester (don’t panic) so we’re going to take the next two weeks to celebrate our graduating student workers!

Mary Kelly

Hometown: Des Moines, IA

Major: International Studies (Business and Global Resources Track)

How long have you been working at the Engineering Library: One semester, but I used to work at the Sciences Library!

What are your plans after graduation? Go to grad school eventually for something sustainability sciences related, and work.

Do you have any advice for new students? Talk to your professors during office hours. They’re cool.

What’s a fun fact about yourself? I was born on Christmas. My full name is Mary Noel because of that. 

Graduate Profile: Jake Santi

We’re nearing the end of the semester (don’t panic) so we’re going to take the next two weeks to celebrate our graduating student workers!

Jake Santi

Hometown: Western Springs, IL

Major: Engineering

How long have you worked at the Engineering Library? 1.5 years

What are your plans after graduation? Working at ComEd in their Engineer Rotational Program in the Chicagoland area.

Do you have any advice for new students? Time management is crucial for your academics  but just as important for your overall college experience. Whiteboards and planners are very helpful!

What’s a fun fact about yourself? My parents were going to name me Luke until a lost Great Dane named Jake woke my dad on a hammock. 

Good luck, Jake and thanks for all of your hard work!

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Happy Native American Heritage Month! As a university that sits on the homelands of many tribes past and present, it is important to us to acknowledge the significant contributions that Native Americans have made to our culture and sciences. When creating our Untold Stories in STEM collection we wanted to include important stories of Native American scientists. 

Native American Scientists provides a short biography of the lives and work of Fred Begay, Wilfred F. Denetclaw Jr., Frank C. Dukepoo, Clifton Poodry, and Jerrel Yakel. 

Viewing the ancestors : perceptions of the Anaasází, Mokwič, and Hisatsinom combines the oral histories of several tribal cultures with the science of archaeology to build a more complete history of structures at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly. 

Have you ever looked at the night sky and wondered who else has seen those same stars? In The Spirit and the Sky: Lakota visions of the Cosmos you can learn about the work done by Lakota astronomers in the 19th century, including how they named stars and constellations and explained the natural phenomena they saw.

In African American Cherokee Nurses in Appalachia learn how these groundbreaking women shaped the region and supported their communities.

Do you know other books about the impact that Native Americans have had in STEM fields? Let us know! We’re always looking for ideas to expand our Untold Stories in STEM collection.


Reminder: next week is Fall Break. We will be open Monday and Tuesday November 21 and 22 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm then closed from Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27th. Regular hours will resume on the 28th.  

Engineering Origami

It’s World Origami Day! Did you know that the art of paper folding has applications in engineering? Biomedical engineering, robotics, space structures and more use techniques from origami.

Origami dates all the way back to Song Dynasty China (905-1125 CE), but you may not recognize it as the art form it is today. Many defining aspects of the practice including starting with a square piece of paper and a ban on cutting were part of European influence in the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, the activity of folding paper wasn’t known as origami until the late Showa Era in Japan (1926-1989).

Using origami techniques, engineers can solve problems, like fitting big things into small spaces. For example, in this video you can watch how folding techniques allowed for NASA engineers to fold the sunshield for the James Webb Telescope. The sunshield, at 60×46 ft., along with the massive mirror, which measures over 21 feet wide, are much too large to fit into any existing rockets, so engineers used origami-style folding to fit the telescope into the Ariane V Rocket. 

The James Webb Space Telescope with Safran on board! | Safran

Origami can be used to solve much more mundane earth-side problems as well. Architect Anton Willis moved into a new apartment and didn’t have enough space to store his kayak. He solved his problem by creating Oru Kayaks, fully functional and portable kayaks that fold up to be carried or stored. 

Oru Kayak Inlet: A Portable Origami Folding Kayak. by Oru Kayak —  Kickstarter

Biomedical engineering can also get involved! Because of the nature of origami-based design, products are scalable, so the same principles that fold up a tennis court-sized sunshade can also design a heart stent that can be deployed with minimally invasive surgery. 

Ready to explore more? We have several books in our collection that can get you started.

You may enjoy How To Fold It: the mathematics of linkages, origami, and polyhedra by Joseph O’Rourke to learn a basis of problem solving with origami.

Want to see how origami can change manufacturing? Check out Making It: manufacturing techniques for product design by Chris Lefteri.

If you want to use origami to make things very very tiny, read Nanotechnology: the future is tiny by Michael Berger.

Finally, if you want to stop reading and start doing, find a project in Paper Inventions: machines that move, drawings that light up, and wearables you can cut, fold, and roll by Kathy Ceceri.


Read more:

Meloni, Marco, et al. “Engineering Origami: A Comprehensive Review of Recent Applications, Design Methods, and Tools.” Advanced Science, vol. 8, no. 13, 13 May 2021, https://doi.org/10.1002/advs.202000636.

Morrison, Jim. “How Origami Is Revolutionizing Industrial Design.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 23 Apr. 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/theres-origami-revolution-industrial-design-180972019/.


How do I… Request an item?

If the University of Iowa Libraries do not have a book you’re looking for, or if it’s checked out, you can request the item and we’ll bring it to Iowa City for you for free! Here’s a quick walkthrough of the InterLibrary Loan (ILL) process:

1. Find the book you’re looking for. If the book you’re looking for is at one of our libraries, this is very simple. Just find it in our catalog log in, and click “Request Physical Item” or “Request PDF of a Single Chapter,” depending on your needs. For book chapter requests please note that all scan requests must be under 50 pages. If the item you’re looking for is on the shelf, simply use the drop down menu to choose the library where you want to pick up the book and we’ll get to work! You will get an email when it’s ready to be picked up. If the item is checked out, you’ll have the option to “Request this book through InterLibrary Loan.” See the next step for more information. 

2. If the book you’re looking for isn’t available through the University Libraries, you can request it through ILL. There are two main ways to get to the ILL form: The first one is through clicking the “Request this book by InterLibrary Loan” or “Request PDF of a Single Chapter” links on a book’s record. In the picture above they will be where the red box is. You can also find the form from any of our Libraries’ home pages, just hover over the “Services” tab and find “Borrowing From Another Library & Document Delivery.” Then click “Log In to Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery” to create a request.

3. You’re ready to create an ILL request. If you’ve arrived at the ILL form from an InfoHawk+ record, good news – much of the information has already been filled out for you! Scroll through and enter all of the required information, click submit, and you’ll be on your way. If you’re looking for a book that’s not in the University of Iowa Libraries catalog, hover over the “New Requests” tab, select the appropriate category, and fill out all of the required information. There’s no such thing as too much information when looking for a book, so be specific. This will help the librarians to find the right item for you. 

4. Now just sit back and wait. We work as quickly as possible to your items, but we can’t guarantee delivery times for anything (we are human!).You will get an email in your inbox as soon as your item is scanned at its pickup destination. You can also check on the status of your items under the History tab in the ILL system. 

When navigating to the ILL page you might have seen something called UBorrow. This is an ILL system exclusive to the Big Ten Academic Alliance that works much like our other ILL system. For information and video tutorials to use UBorrow, check out the LibGuide.