Teaching your students the basic foundations of calculus and physics can be a great starting point for future engineers. For real world applications, one of the best things teachers can do is introduce them to the proper use of an engineering notebook.
Many people unfamiliar with the scientific world assume that to prove an idea is your own or that you created an invention, you only need to show some basic information outlining the idea. Most assume that any evidence of the idea’s origins will be sufficient and protect them when they are ready to patent the product or begin selling their improved systems.
Sadly, the reality is that the scientific theft – from the appropriation of basic ideas to the straight-out theft of designs – is a scientific tradition. Thomas Edison is known to have capitalized on the efforts of Nikola Tesla, for example, promising Tesla huge rewards for fixing the problems with Edison’s designs, only to renege on those promises. Tesla learned the lesson quickly and began patenting his designs himself, but despite his major contribution to modern society, he died penniless.
When you as a teacher instruct your students in the proper use of an engineering notebook to record their ideas, experiments, and designs, you help prepare your students for the intense and often unethical competition they will face once they have completed their education — and possibly even before. Properly designed notebooks for scientists concentrate not only on preserving the material recorded in them, but also on verifying the processes used and the date the discoveries were made.