Open Engineering

Open Engineering

As engineering researchers and scholars, we hope to have an impact on the world through our work. Many of us went into this field in pursuit of the dream of using our skills and training to help improve the lives of others. Unfortunately, through the pressures of career advancement we find ourselves creating and publishing work that will be read by a handful (sometimes fewer) of others. While practicing open engineering won't guarantee that more people will read your work, it does remove many of the barriers to access that make it difficult for millions of people around the world to obtain and engage with the engineering knowledge that is so often locked away behind the paywalls employed by some of the biggest academic publishers. With the availability of modern tools, it is easier than ever to make available not only the final, polished product of the engineering research or design process, but also the data, code, solid models, or any other artifacts produced along the way. By making the full scope of our work available, we have the opportunity to see our work replicated, expanded upon, or even driven in new directions we hadn't conceived. Through these mechanisms, the impact of our work is magnified. To realize these benefits, it may be necessary to re-examine the reward structures which drive our career advancement and in some cases, restructure the role of the publicly funded research institution in society.


Devin Berg

May 25, 2017


  1. OPEN ENGINEERING Devin R. Berg @devinberg #openengr May 25,

  2. Who am I? University of Wisconsin-Stout Design, robotics, medical devices

    Engineering education and practice 2
  3. WHAT

  4. What is open engineering? The rules are simple Make your

    work accessible 4
  5. What do you mean accessible? Accessible is obtainable Accessible is

    understandable Accessible is reproducible 5
  6. Be as open as you want to be There is

    no wrong way to be open Find the level of open that works for you There is a community out there willing to help! 6
  7. 7

  8. WHY

  9. You want to have an impact!

  10. People can't access our work Many institutions do not have

    subscriptions Non-academics can’t understand our work Motivated individuals can’t recreate our work 10
  11. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural

    life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27 section 1
  12. aid in diffusing among the people of the United

    States useful and, practical information... Morrill Land-Grant Act, 1862; Smith–Lever Act, 1914
  13. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.

    NSPE Code of Ethics
  14. Create work that is reproducible All needed components are available

    The workflow can be replicated You can recreate it 20 years from now 14
  15. 15

  16. HOW

  17. How to be open Make your work obtainable Make your

    work understandable Make your work reproducible 17
  18. To be obtainable Preprint and self-archive your work Publish open

    access Open up your other artifacts 18
  19. Preprints... → speed up dissemination → should be licensed and

    formatted to facilitate reuse → provide a record of priority → do not lead to being scooped → provide access to scholarly content that would otherwise be lost 19 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005473
  20. Preprints... → do not imply low quality → supports the

    rapid evaluation of controversial results → do not typically preclude publication → can further inform grant review and academic advancement → one size does not fit all 20 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005473
  21. To be understandable Think about your audience Consider preparing a

    version with more accessible language Focus on applications/implications 21
  22. To be reproducible Use reproducible workflows Use open and non-proprietary

    softwares Provide what others will need 22 DOI: 10.7717/peerj-cs.112
  23. There are many resources available Make your work available in

    the correct format How will others find it and interact with it? Use the tools available to us! 23
  24. 24

  25. 25

  26. Examples Open engineering can lead to some amazing outcomes Everything

    from hardware to software to workflows. 26
  27. 27 The Story of Pat Delany, Open Source Machine Tools

  28. 28 Lorena Barba: Reproducible and replicable CFD; Image

  29. 29 Jessica Vechakul: Zambulance

  30. 30 Joshua Pearce: Open hardware

  31. 31 GliaX Stethoscope; Image

  32. Other examples Fully public grant proposals Cover letters, research statements,

    etc. An open pledge 32
  33. Barriers to adoption Need for training and updated workflows Career

    reward structures Pressures of capitalism 33
  34. But what about patents?1 Of course the rules of prior

    art still apply In the US, preprinting may help establish your priority Is patenting your best route to having an impact? 34 1I am not an attorney and this is not legal advise.
  35. Further information Dr. Kyle Niemeyer on Open Science Why Open

    Research with Dr. Erin McKiernan 35
  36. 36 Thank You!