NEF1204 Introduction to Engineering Design: Overview

About this guide

This guide provides a starting point for NEF1204 using resources in the VU Library.


Google vs. VU library

Advantages of using VU Library search tools over doing general Internet search to find academic sources of information for your assignments. 

What are keywords?

Key words are words in a question that tell you the approach you should take when answering an assignment question. 

Keywords can include content (topic), limiting (restricting), and task (instruction) words.

Assignment example:

"Managing urban traffic congestion can be costly both financially and socially. Discuss and suggest solutions for sustainable transport in Australian cities."

    Content Words      

  • Tell you what the topic area is.
  • Help you to focus your research and reading on the correct area.
  • Think about synonyms or similar words.    
  • e.g. in this example: managing urban traffic congestion, and sustainable transport in cities.

Source: University of New South Wales

    Limiting Words 

  • Tell you what area(s) to focus on, e.g. Australian cities
  • Define the topic area further.
  • Indicate aspects of the topic area you should narrowly concentrate on.




    Task Words

  • Tell you what to do; the action(s) you need to perform, e.g. compare, contrast, describe, summarise, i.e. discuss and suggest as in this example.

When you are searching for information for an essay question, assignment or project, use the identified content and limiting keywords to search for information sources in our Library Search and online.

Boolean Operators and Database Search Tips

Boolean Operators are the words AND, OR, and NOT used in library databases or Library Search that  connect and define the relationships between the search terms. Using Boolean operators make searches more precise, and saves you time as you do not need to go through all the search results in order to find the most relevant articles.

AND narrows the search resulting in more focused results, for instance, searching for “heat sinkAND design, will retrieve articles in the search result that include both concepts (key words).

OR broadens the search by instructing the database to search for any of the words, which is particularly useful for synonyms or related terms, i.e. “heat sinkORheatsinkORheat-sink

NOT narrows the search by instructing the database to remove all unnecessary search results, for example: heatsink NOT CPU.

Database Search Tips:

Apply quotations around your exact phrase for phrase searching, for example, "heat sink".

Truncation is a searching technique that broadens your search to include all variations of word endings and spellings for a particular root word. To use it, enter the root of a word and apply the frequently used truncation symbol asterisk (*). For example, searching for heat* will retrieve heat, heating, or heated

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Non-VU access  

Sustainable design

This program inspires students to incorporate sustainability into their design projects.

1. The Smart Car - This German car is designed for maximum economy of performance and space. The factory even recycles the body warmth of its workers.

2. Freeplay Power - Freeplay's wind-up mechanism provides a sustainable alternative to batteries in flashlights and radios. Future products include lap tops and cell phones.

3. The Remarkable Pencil - One discarded plastic cup is recycled into one pencil.

Learn about AutoCAD used to develop and present design solutions through the LinkedIn Learning online resource

Search for more courses or videos on various subjects within LinkedIn Learning (formerly