Explore the Creative Space!

One of our favorite spots in the Engineering Library is the Creative Space. It’s packed full with almost everything you would need to get an idea off the ground. If you need something else, just ask – we might have a way to get it for you or get you in touch with someone who can! But what is a Creative Space?

Developed several years ago, the Creative Space is our version of a makerspace. A growing trend in academic libraries like ours, makerspaces provide students with tools and machines that they may not have easy access to. Here at the Engineering Library you can check out over 275 tools (more about our Tool Library in tomorrow’s post), as well as use of several machines. Let’s take a moment to take a closer look at them.

First up is our Matter & Form 3D Scanner: This scanner stays put in the Northwest Corner of the Creative Space under the sign that says “3D Scanning Station,” and can measure items up to 9.8″.

Right next to the Matter & Form Scanner is the Cricut. Able to cut, draw, engrave, and perforate over 300 materials, the Cricuit Maker 3 is a great tool for when you need precision. Did you see the tags we made for our Blind Date with a Book event? Those were cut and written with our very own Cricut! If you want to use it, you will need to bring your own materials, but we’re happy to help you learn the software.


The newest addition to the Creative Space is a MakerBot 3D Printer. Gifted to us by our friends at the Engineering Electronics Shop, our 3D printer is part of a pilot program. It can print items up to 4″x4″x5″ and is free to use. Users are limited to 1 print per day, and full policies can be found here. If you want any large or highly precise prints, you’ll still need to contact the Engineering Electronics Shop, but our MakerBot can help you try out a print or create a prototype with less risk.

If you want to create a prototype with something other than 3D printing filament, check out our prototyping station. The materials you find there may change from time to time, but right now they include construction and tissue paper, popsicle sticks, and pipe cleaners. Stop in and check out what else we have on hand for you.

We also have two Virtual Reality stations, one with an HTC Vive and one with an Oculus Rift. Controllers for the systems can be checked out at the front desk. 

The Creative Space is also a great place to study! There are several tables and plenty of outlets to keep your computers and phones charged. two computer stations with collaboration tables so you can work together on one screen. You can also use any of the glass panels on the walls to work through a calculus problem together.

When you stop in, you may find a friend hanging around. Don’t worry about him, he’s a (skele)ton of fun!

Study in the Stacks

We’re coming to the end of the semester, which means that you might be looking for a new place to study. We have several options here for you!

Need to get that group project done? Come on in! You may be surprised to know that you don’t need to be silent in the library. Come in any time during our open hours, and you can use any of our spaces. On our main floor you can stop in and use our tables or computers anytime – no reservation needed! 

If you need a little more privacy for solo or group work, you can reserve one of our two Pods. You can fit 4-5 people in each room, and easily share content from your phone or computer onto the screen with the Solstice device (details on how to do that are in that link). Last year, our Pods were reserved 1,606 times! 

If independent quiet study is more your style, head downstairs where you will find several options. You can study at a  desk (also known as a carrel), in front of an “aquarium” or “fireplace,” in a comfy chair or beanbag. 

The Creative Space is also a fantastic place to study, but we’ll take an up-close look at that tomorrow!

Resources at your fingertips

Did you know that with your University of Iowa ID you have access to over 3,000 electronic journals and 400 databases? One of the most powerful tools to further your research is access to InfoHawk+ and our online resources. You can find them in several different ways.

1. InfoHawk+ Search for anything like you would normally search on any search engine. When you get the page of results, you can use the drop down menu on the right side of the search bar. You can then go to “Refine my results” on the left side of the screen and select the “Full Text Online” box. You then have a list of articles and books you can access from your computer! 

2. When you visit the Engineering Library website you’ll find our “Selected Resources” section right under the InfoHawk+ search bar. This section is really great if you’re looking for a standard, patent, journal, or database.

3. Not sure where to start? Try out our specially designed guides by department, found at the bottom of our homepage. Your librarians have handpicked resources for each department, providing you with places to get started.

We can’t resist a good countdown, so here are our top five most accessed online databases:

5. SAE Digital Library

4. ASCE Research Library

3. AccessEngineering

2. ACM Digital Library

1. IEEE Xplore Digital Library

Still not sure what resource is best for your project? Get in touch! You can get in touch with your librarians by visiting our homepage. Contact information can be found in the menu on the right hand side of the page, or just click here. You can call, email, chat, or text us. We’re here and ready to help!

What are our engineers reading?

It’s National Library Week! First celebrated by the American Library Association in 1958, NLW is a way for libraries to highlight and encourage the use of their services and spaces – so we’re doing the same thing! We’re starting up with the thing with you might expect from a library: books. 

Located on the lower floor of the library, the Engineering Library has approximately 45,000 books here for easy access, with an additional 105,000 available offsite at the library annex that you can order to pick up at the library desk. Last year we had 774 checkouts of physical books from our stacks. Here’s a look at what some of the most popular books here at the library, based on how many times they have been checked out. We’ve removed items that are on course reserve, since they are outliers.

#3 is a tie between Microelectronics: circuit analysis and design by Donald A. Neamen and Introduction to Communication Systems by Upamanyu Madhow, both with 4 checkouts


#2 with 5 checkouts is Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainability edited by Geoffrey Lawrence, Kristen Lyons, and Tabatha Wallington

#1 is Chemical Process Safety: fundamentals with applications by Daniel A. Crowl and Joseph F. Louvar with 18 checkouts! 

Come on in and see what we have in store – you may be surprised what you’ll find! 

Sharon Tinker

Sharon Tinker

Sharon Tinker was born in 1958 in the small town of Manchester, IA. Her father was a farmer and her mother was a homemaker. During her childhood, she was a very active participant in her local 4H club, learning about a range of topics from food safety to photography. When asked in elementary school what she wanted to be when she grew up she said that she was interested in becoming a schoolteacher, a cowgirl, or a nun. Tinker graduated from West Delaware High School in 1976.  

She chose to attend the University of Iowa to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. She excelled during her time here, being on the Dean’s List her sophomore year. She also participated in several activities including Associated Students of Engineering, the Engineering Open House Committee, the Society of Women Engineers, and the University of Iowa Radiation Protection Committee. When she graduated in 1980 she was interested in finding a management position with special interests in process engineering, production, research, and development.  

After graduation, Tinker found a job as a Performance Chemicals Engineer at Exxon. She has stayed with that company, moving from Texas, to Louisiana, and all the way to Singapore as part of her many assignments. She has been recognized for her accomplishments, receiving many awards including the ExxonMobil Chemical Responsible Care Award, the ExxonMobil Chemical Global Manufacturing Award, and the Young Engineer of the Year Award from the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. She has stayed connected with the University of Iowa, establishing the Sharon K. Tinker Process Safety Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, which is currently held by C. Allan Guymon. She was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Engineering Alumni in August of 2020.  


Works Cited

Sharon Tinker papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.-a). Sharon K. Tinker Process Safety Professorship in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/college/faculty-and-staff/college-engineering-awards/chairs-and-professorships/sharon-k-tinker

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.-b). Sharon Tinker. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni/awards/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-members/sharon-tinker

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (2016, November 30). Engineering Alumna Tinker to Receive Dean’s Award for Distinguished Service. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/news-all/2016/11/engineering-alumna-tinker-receive-deans-award-distinguished-service

Margaret S. Petersen

Margaret S. Petersen

Professor Margaret S. Petersen was born in Rock Island, Illinois in 1920. After graduating from high school, she started at Augustana College in her home town in 1938, but eventually transitioned to taking classes part-time in evening school. In 1942, she joined the Army Corps of Engineers as a draftsman for the Rock Island District. In December of that year, she was became one of ten draftsmen who were chosen to work on the Three Locks Project in Panama. While in Panama, she saved money to return to school full time, and also met Irene Miller, a fellow draftsman who would become her lifelong friend. (The pictures below are from their senior book in 1947)

Margaret Petersen
Irene Miller

After returning to the States, Margaret and Irene started at the University of Iowa. They were among the first women to graduate from the College of Engineering and both earned degrees in Civil Engineering in February of 1947. Still working for the Army Corps of Engineers, Petersen moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where she worked on the Mississippi Basin Model. She returned to the University a few years later and earn an M.S. in Mechanics and Hydraulics in 1953. She would remain with the Army Corps of Engineers for many years, moving around the country on different assignments, including projects on the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas Rivers. 

In 1980, Petersen joined the faculty of Arizona State University as a visiting associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. During her time there she worked to develop several graduate courses, and wrote the textbook River Engineering. Petersen was appointed as an Emerita Associate Professor in 1991, but did not completely retire from teaching until 1997. Throughout her career she received many awards and recognitions including the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award and the Environmental and Water Resources Institute’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. The Environmental and Water Resources Institute also established the Margaret Petersen Outstanding Woman of the Year Award in her honor.  

Sources Cited

In Memoriam: Margaret Petersen, P.E., F.ASCE, Hon.D.WRE. (2018, September 12). Civil and Architectural Engineering and Mechanics | The University of Arizona. https://caem.engineering.arizona.edu/news-events/memoriam-margaret-petersen-pe-fasce-hondwre

Sacramento District Army Corps of Engineers. (2013, March 4). Pioneering woman engineer leaves adventurous, enduring legacy. https://www.spk.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/479291/pioneering-woman-engineer-leaves-adventurous-enduring-legacy/

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.). Prof. Margaret S. Petersen. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni/awards/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-members/prof-margaret-s-petersen


Dr. Kook-Wha Koh

Dr. Kook-Wha Koh

This week we are featuring successful chemical engineer and entrepreneur Dr. Kook-Wha Koh. Born in Korea, Kook-Wha studied Chemical Engineering at Seoul National University. She and her childhood sweetheart Kwang-Kuk Koh came to the US in 1965 to further their study in chemical engineering at the University of Iowa. They chose Iowa because of their interest in membrane separations, which was being pioneered at the time by department chair Karl Kammermeyer. Kook-Wha earned her PhD in Chemical  Engineering in 1970 with her thesis “Crystallinity and Denisty in Permeation of Carbon Dioxide and water Vapor through Polymers.” Following their time at Iowa, the Drs. Koh moved down to Texas where Kook-Wha completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Rice University where she worked with heart surgery pioneer Michael DeBakey on his work with artificial hearts. 

After Texas the Koh’s moved to Detroit where Kook-Wha established Chrysan Industries in 1977, headquartered in Plymouth, MI. Chrysan (which is the Korean word for chrysanthemum) is a global supplier of automotive, industrial, and aerospace lubricants and specialty chemicals. In 1980 the company was  awarded its first patent – #4,218,329 – in metalworking fluid technology. The company also holds patents metalworking fluid technology, “formulated cutting oils, and synthetic coolants.” The company supplies to General Motors and Ford, and exports and distributes their products in Asia, Africa and South America. 

Kook-Wha has now retired, and she and her husband spend their time traveling. They have the goal of visiting all of National Geographic’s 50 places everyone should see in their lifetime. They also use their retirement to “promote and ensure equal opportunities for minority business enterprises and women-owned businesses.”

Works Cited

Chrysan Industries. (n.d.). Chrysan Industries, Inc. Global Supplier of Automotive Lubricants and Specialty Chemicals. https://www.chrysanindustries.com/en/about-us#history-of-chrysan

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.). Drs. Kwang-Kuk and Kook-Wha Koh. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni/awards/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-members/drs-kwang-kuk-and-kook

Avery L. Bang

Avery Bang

Avery Bang is putting her engineering skills to work to create social and economic opportunities by building bridges. The daughter of a civil engineer, Bang learned the importance of infrastructure early in life. Bang graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007 with dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Studio Art. In addition to her degrees from Iowa, she has a MS in Civil Engineering from Colorado University Boulder, and an MBA from the University of Oxford. While here at Iowa, she worked as a research assistant at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and completed an internship in structural engineering. She was very involved in student organizations, and was the president of Engineers for a Sustainable World, and founded Iowa’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders. 

During a study abroad trip to Fiji, Bang saw the impact a well-placed bridge could make. In an interview for the film “Dream Big,” Bang said “One of the communities had recently opened a footbridge development project, and I was able to see firsthand how a simple bridge was transforming their everyday world. People could get to the doctor, to schools, and to markets they could never have reached before. I directly experienced how structures change people’s lives. That’s when I really started taking engineering seriously – it became both a passion and a purpose for me.” The next year, Bang joined Bridges to Prosperity, establishing their University program. In two semesters, she and a team built a bridge in a remote area of Peru.

A 2019 bridge project in Bolivia

Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) was founded in 2001 with the mission to build bridges to connect rural communities to medical, academic, and economic opportunities using bridges that span rivers, valleys, and other geographic obstacles. According to their website, their projects have impacted 1.3 million people. Benefits of these project include, a 12% increase in enrollment in school, an 18% increase in medical visits, and a 30% increase in labor income and 75% increase in farm profits for the community. They have completed projects in Rwanda, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Bolivia. These projects partner with local communities to ensure that these bridges are monitored and maintained regularly.

Avery is now the President and CEO of B2P and has given several public talks, including a TEDTalk at TedWomen 2017.


Works Cited

Bang, A. (n.d.). Avery Bang. Hi, I’m Avery. https://www.averybang.com/

Bridges to Prosperity. (n.d.). Bridges to Prosperity: The global leader in rural infrastructure development. https://www.bridgestoprosperity.org/

Dream Big. (2016, December 23). Avery Bang. Dream Big: Engineering Our World. https://dreambigfilm.com/team/avery-bang/

University of Iowa Civil and Environmental Engineering. (2015, December 18). Alumna Avery Bang Honored as One of 15 Inspiring Women CEOs that Impacted The World In 2015 | Civil and Environmental Engineering. https://cee.engineering.uiowa.edu/news/alumna-avery-bang-honored-one-15-inspiring-women-ceos-impacted-world-2015

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.). Avery L. Bang. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni/awards/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-members/avery-l-bang

Captain Luther H. Smith

Capt. Luther H. Smith

Luther H. Smith was born in Des Moines, September 27, 1920, and grew up in a loving family with eight siblings. He knew he loved flying from a very young age. When he was 11 years old, he and his brother found $5 in a field. He convinced his brother to use their newfound fortune to pay a pilot to take them on a flight. After this, he would walk 5 miles to and from the airport where he would do odd jobs for anyone who needed it, and hope that they would take him on a flight in appreciation. 

In 1938, Smith enrolled at the University of Iowa, where he studied mechanical engineering. The United States had not yet joined World War II, but at that point it was clear that a large number of pilots would be needed in the near future. As a result, Civilian Pilot Training Programs were established on campuses across the country in 1939. Smith knew that at that point, the U.S. military did not allow African Americans to serve as pilots, but he was determined to be prepared. He joined the Civilian Pilot Training Program and earned his pilot’s license in 1940. He was on of the first Black Americans do to so. 

After joining WWII, the military changed their tune, and allowed Black men to serve as pilots, and in 1942, Smith would enlist in the Army Air Corps in September 1942 and become one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He served in the 332nd Fighter Group of the 302nd Fighter Squadron. Smith joined the war effort in Europe in January of 1944, based out of Italy. By October of that year, he had flown 133 missions.

Smith and his brother Howard on a military base in Italy, 1944.

On October 13, 1944, Smith’s plane, a P-47 Mustang, was hit during an escort mission over Yugoslavia. He would later say of that day “I flew 133 missions. On the last one, I didn’t make it back. It was Friday the 13th. It was my lucky day – I’m still alive.” He was able to bail out of the plane, but fell through trees, and landed on a branch, fracturing his hip. he was captured as a Prisoner of War and taken to a military hospital. Soon after, he was moved to Stalag XVIII-A, a prisoner of war camp in southern Austria. He would remain a POW for seven months, and was liberated in early May of 1945. At the time of his rescue, he weight only 70 pounds. He returned to the States, where his recovery and rehabilitation would take an additional 2 years and require 18 surgeries. He would be left with lifelong health issues. In 1947, Smith retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Captain. He was the recipient of many medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, the Prisoner of War Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Purple Heart, and the WWII Victory Medal. 

Smith returned to Iowa City and completed his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering in 1950. He moved to Schenectady, NY to take a job with General Electric, where he would also be active in the local chapter of the NAACP. He later accepted a position with the company that moved him and his wife to Philadelphia, PA where he earned a Masters degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Penn State. Smith would work for GE for 37 years. He held two U.S. Patents on dynamic sealing devices in aircraft, regularly published technical papers, and worked on projects with the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and U.S. Navy Submarine Command.

In 2000, he began speaking publicly about his time in the war, including about the impact of racial inequality in the military. He accompanied president Bill Clinton on a trip to Europe to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. In 2006, Tuskegee University awarded him with an honorary doctorate. He was part of the Architect-Engineer Evaluation Jury for the National World War II Memorial in Washington. In 2007 he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service as part of the Tuskegee Airmen. Captain Smith passed away in 2009 at the age of 89 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Works Cited:

American Air Museum in Britain. (n.d.). Luther H Smith | American Air Museum in Britain. https://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/241764

CAF Rise Above. (2018, October 17). Luther H. Smith. https://cafriseabove.org/luther-h-smith/

Iowa Aviation Museum. (n.d.). Luther H. Smith – Iowa Aviation Museum. http://flyingmuseum.com/hall-of-fame/1994-luther-smith/

Saylor, T. (2005, February 18). Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941–1946 – Luther Smith, Jr. DigitalCommons@CSP. https://digitalcommons.csp.edu/oral-history_ww2/75/

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.). Luther H. Smith. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni-and-friends/awards-alumni-and-friends/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-9

University of Iowa Libraries. (n.d.). UI Collection Guides -Civilian Pilot Training Program Records, 1942–1944. http://collguides.lib.uiowa.edu/?RG10.0003.002