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Mechanical and Industrial Engineering : Standards

Using this page

Standards are often critical to your work; they're also often expensive! The library is here to help you get access to the standards you need, and this page provides an overview of the resources and services available, including an introduction to standards and why they're important, access to standards the library subscribes to, search strategies to figure out which standards may apply to your work, and how to request a standard the library doesn't have access to.

You can also watch this brief webinar - How do I get free access to the standards I need? A Bite-Sized Webinar - for an overview of this information. If you have any questions, please contact me at

Standards 101

What is a standard?

A standard is a document that defines specifications for design, performance, or process, as agreed upon by experts.  

According to International Standards Organization (ISO), you can think of a standard as "a formula that describes the best way of doing something". This short video breaks down the ISO's official definition of standards and what each part means (click 'next' for the second part).

Why are standards important?

This tutorial by engineering librarians at Purdue calls out these key benefits of using standards:

  • Cost savings - verified, consistent processes help companies maximize use of resources and eliminate waste.
  • Interoperability - different companies make different parts, and following standards ensures that their components will work together.
  • Safety - standards help ensure that companies make high quality products that are safe to use
  • Promote international trade - consistency of products means that consumers have options, and manufacturers can sell their products in other countries

What are some well known standards organizations for Mechanical and Industrial Engineering?

  • ASTM Compass - American Society for Testing and Materials. Northeastern subscribes to its 13,000+ standards covering testing procedures, specifications, and standard practices for a broad range of topics and materials.
  • ASQ - American Society for Quality - provides commonly used quality standards such as ISO 9000 series (Quality Management), ISO 14000 series (Environmental Management), ISO 22000 (Food Safety), and more. 
  • INCOSE - International Council on Systems Engineering - one of their goals is "To assure the establishment of competitive, scale-able professional standards in the practice of systems engineering".

How can I learn more?

What if the library doesn't have the standard I need?

Due to the high cost and wide variety of standards, the library is not able to subscribe to all of them. However, we may be able to purchase standards for individual use by request, depending on the price and format of the standard, and available budget.

To request a standard, please email Jodi Bolognese, the Engineering Librarian at with the full title and number of the standard(s), for example "ISO 14688-1 - Geotechnical investigation and testing - Identification and classification of soil. Part 1 - Identification and Description". We will investigate purchase options via or IHS Markit and (if budget allows) work with you to gain access.

Not sure which standards you need?

Here are a few places you can search for relevant standards. 

If you find a useful standard but the full text is behind a paywall, the library may be able to purchase a copy for you. Please contact the Engineering Librarian (Jodi Bolognese at for help.

  • ANSI Webstore - ANSI standards for American National Standards Institute, and their web store provides a simple keyword search for a wide range of standards developers.
  • Document Center - this standards web store offers options to search by topicindustry sector, and category (ICS Codes - International Classification for Standards) so may be a good option for browsing standards related to your area of interest.
  • IHS Markit Standards Store - a searchable web store for standards, specifications and related technical documents from military, commercial, national and international standards organizations. It requires separate registration, so you'll need to create an account. Then, you can search IHS Engineering Workbench for standards related to your topic.
  • Research databases - some standards may be indexed in research databases, such as Engineering Village. Login using your Northeastern credentials and search for your topic. Then on the left side of the results screen, use the Document Type filter for 'Standard'.
  • Standards Developing Organization (SDO) websites - organizations that develop standards often have useful search and browse options on their websites. For example, if you're working on an automotive and aerospace application, you could search the SAE International website. To find SDOs related to your topic, try a Google search, or browse this list of SDOs.

Search tips:

  • If you find a potentially useful standard, see if there's a preview or summary you can review to decide if the standard is important for your work.
  • If you're having trouble finding relevant standards, consider synonyms. For example, "life jacket" could be referred to as "life preserver" or "personal flotation device". Don't forget to use parentheses to search key terms as a phrase, rather than individual words.

What standards does the library have access to?

The library provides access to the following standards. Please note that some subscriptions limit access to one user at a time. 

Standards Databases:

Individual Standards:

Here are some of the individual standards the library currently subscribes to. These may change from year to year, depending on the needs of faculty and student. If you questions about a particular standard, please email

Please note that some standards are only available to one user at a time, so if you're not able to access something try logging in again a bit later. 

Some standards providers offer free or low-cost read-only access to standards on their websites. Lists of providers with links to available standards can be found on this page from ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and this page from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).