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Library Research Guides

Mechanical Engineering 450

Use this guide as a starting point for the literature review for your mechanical engineering design project.

Getting Standards from the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library

How Do I Get a Copy of a Standard in the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library?


Access the standard(s) you need based on the issuing agency:


    * ASTM Standards can be downloaded from ASTM Compass.

AAMI - Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) standards are available via AAMI eSubscription. (For access, click on the "Institutional Access" link.)

    * ASCE Standards are available from the ASCE Research Library.

    *ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code is available through the ASME Standards Collection. (For access, click on the "Institutional Access" link.)

  * AWWA Standards - Some AWWA standards are available through Knovel. Look for AWWA standards in Knovel by entering a search for AWWA and then the standard number (for example: AWWA M42).

   * ANSI Incorporated by Reference Standards - selected standards from ISO, IEC, AHAM, AWS, IAPMO, IES, NEMA, and other societies that have been incorporated by reference in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These standards are hosted in a read-only format (no downloading or printing options) and available at no cost here.


    * IEEE Standards are accessible via IEEE Xplore.


    * SAE Standards, including ground vehicle, aerospace, and aerospace materials standards, are available online in SAE Mobilus


    * Building and Energy Codes - Building, fire, and energy codes, including standards from ICC (e.g. 2012 International Building Code), NFPA, ASHRAE, and State of Michigan building codes, are available online through MAD CAD:


    *ACI - American Concrete Institute standards are published in the ACI Manual of Concrete Practice, available online.  


    * NFPA - National Fire Protection Association codes are available free online (Read-Only format) at the NFPA website:


    * OSHA & MiOSHA - Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards are available online at the OSHA website:

Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards are available online at the MiOSHA website:,1607,7-154-11407_15368---,00.html


    * Military Specifications - The Department of Defense has made many military standards available for free (registration and approval is required for access). Please see DoD's ASSIST (at website for coverage and to register for access. Users may also gain access to DoD's ASSIST in person at the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library. Some Military Specifications may also be available via the SAI Global Standards Database (UM-Ann Arbor affiliated users only).


    * Municipal Codes - Online access to municipal codes of over 1,000 local governments in the United States is available through


    * Historical standards - The Art, Architecture & Engineering Library maintains a small collection of historical standards in print format. A searchable spreadsheet of these standards holdings is available via Historical Standards at AAEL.


    * For all other standards not listed above, UM-Ann Arbor affiliated users may request that standards be ordered via the SAI Global Standards Infobase (library staff will review the order then forward the standard on to you if approved).  If you need help using the SAI Global Standards Infobase, please contact Ask a Librarian.




 If You Are Not a User of the UM Art, Architecture & Engineering Library


(UM-Dearborn & UM-Flint affiliates should contact their respective libraries for standards access.) 


If you are a non-UM affiliated user who wants to use our standards collection, you may freely visit our library. However, there are few resources available to non-UM affiliates through the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library.  


      Among the resources that are available to you in the AAEL are

         o SAE Handbook (CD-ROM, 2010 edition, available at the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library 2nd Floor Service Desk.)


      A good resource for finding and acquiring a standard is NSSN, a searchable database of global standards that will link you to where the standard may be acquired (usually for a fee).


      There may also be other sources outside of the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library available to you, including:

          o Other libraries in your area

          o Military standards over the WWW.

          o Standards suppliers (for-pay document delivery services):


                TechStreet 800-699-9277; 

                IHS 800-525-7052; 

                SAI Global 201-986-1131; 

What is a Standard?

What is a Standard?


There is no single accepted definition for standards, but Charles Sullivan describes them as:


    "... a category of documents whose function is to control some aspect of human endeavor." 


We think that is a workable definition. But not to leave well enough alone, we will elaborate for our own purposes. Standards, for our discussion, include standards, specifications, regulations, and guidelines. They help clarify, guide and control processes and activities crucial to our everyday functioning and lives. In particular, they specify definitions, performance, and design criteria. They help create a common language with which engineers, researchers, businesses, and even students can communicate, create, and learn.


Standards can be voluntary or mandatory, and as technology and needs change, become superseded. They are created by industrial societies and government bodies, in the United States and in foreign countries. They are also numerous, and growing. Originally discussed by the LaQue report in 1961, the United States standards environment has been short on coordination and long on independent action among the standards issuing bodies. The situation is a little better today, but not much. Currently there are over 550 standards issuing bodies in the United States, as compared to 350 in 1961.


The rest of the world has also taken steps to improve the standards situation. After World War II, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) helped two fledgling international organizations, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), increase their role in the standards arena. Today international standards are an important and growing area as well, with over 7000 ISO standards alone.


Voluntary Standards


These are standards the use of which is theoretically voluntary, but in practice is widely adopted for the sake of ease of manufacture, interchangeability, and safety. Virtually all industrial standards are voluntary standards. In the past, such standards have been used in an exclusionary way, to favor one group or organization over its rival.


Mandatory Standards


Those standards which are, in effect, laws. Failure to follow such standards would result in legal penalties and liability. They are generally adopted out of concern for safety, and promulgated by the Federal government or one of its agencies or departments. Codes are groups of standards on the same topic, generally created for government agencies, and thus mandatory standards.


Definition Standards


Standards that provide standard measurement, symbology or terminology are definition standards. These create a foundation on which many other standards can be created. The metric system is an example of a definition standard.


Performance Specification Standards


These standards specify the performance levels of a particular item or process, such as a grade of steel or test methods. It doesn't matter how a thing is made or done, but it must meet a certain level performance. That performance can be on a spectrum, with major points designated as a grade or class.


Criteria Standards


Criteria standards discuss how to go about an activity, kind of the "opposite" of a performance standard. Criteria standards set up recommendations considering certain aspects of an activity, such as bridge building, or a laboratory process.


Superseded Standards


Because quality, technology, and human needs change, standards are changed as well. Sometimes the area covered by the rules of a new standard must change to meet the new guidelines. Other times, only new activity must conform. Superseded standards provide information on how things used to be done, and provide valuable information when an older area of activity (like the capabilities of an old elevator or results from a lab using older reporting techniques) is being evaluated. The Art, Architecture & Engineering Library has a large number of superseded standards in our collection.