Historical Examples of Engineering Notebooks

Engineers have kept meticulous notes for centuries. Leonardo da Vinci had many notebooks full of drawings and notes on ideas and inventions. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla—just to name a few other inventors—kept meticulous records. By studying examples of other designers’ engineering notebooks, you see commonality. The use of sketches and words in combination to express an idea. The inclusion of the math that guides our decisions. The records of test data that are organized and easy to reference in the future. All of this is an integral part of the engineering design process.

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Codex Forster II , Leonardo da Vinci, late 15th – early 16th century, Italy. Museum no. Forster MS.141

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Thomas Edison's Notebook. Rutgers University, from the collection of Thomas Edison NHP

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Albert Einstein’s Zurich Notes for a lecture on Relativity. 1915

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Tesla’s research notes, chronicling his experiments in Colorado Springs from 1899 to 1900.