How can we be sure that the homes we live in, the vehicles we travel in, and the water we drink are safe? In all these aspects of our lives, we are protected by technical standards. It’s important that all engineers have a strong understanding of technical standards so that they can abide by them in their work. In this module, you’ll learn about what standards are and how they are developed. You’ll explore an example standard and think about how this document is useful to engineers and society. Finally, you’ll learn about where to find standards and how to access them.  

 Modes of Learning

In this module, students will use the following modes of learning:

  • Videos
  • An activity in which you explore a standard

This module will take approximately 25 minutes to complete. 

 Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to…

  • Recognize what a standard is and its value to society
  • Locate needed information in a standard
  • Identify sources for finding standards

 Key Terms & Concepts

  • Standard
  • Regulation
  • Code
  • Guideline
  • Specification

Topic 1: Introduction to Standards

This video covers what a standard is, how they are developed and who develops them, and specific vocabulary and terminology related to standards.

Watch Introduction to Standards in full screen.


Topic 2: Reading a Standard

In this video, we will look at an example of a standard and learn how to read one.

Watch Reading a Standard in full screen.


Use the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards to answer the questions below.


Topic 3: Finding Standards

In this video, you will learn how to search for and find standards through your academic library. You will also be introduced to search strategies to help you find standards easily.

Watch Finding Standards in full screen.



In this module on technical standards, you learned what standards are, how they are developed, and why they are important to engineers and society. You practiced reading and interpreting information in a standard through an activity using the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. You also learned about standards organizations and standards databases and how you might interact with each of these to access standards. 

Icon for references References

International Electrotechnical Commission, “Understanding Standards. (accessed Oct. 6, 2021) 

Icon for additional resources Additional Resources


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Engineering and Information: Research Skills for Engineers Copyright © by Katie Harding, Alanna Carter, Shelir Ebrahimi, and Eva Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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