This page is intended to house documentation for lab members that describes the nuts and bolts of how the lab functions. It's primary purpose is for on-boarding new members, but is also a reference for current members. For this page to be useful, all lab members will need to provide their collective knowledge and experiences. It is up to all of us to make this guide useful. You are expected to contribute to the guide and edit it. Just discuss with the lab any desires to change any of the guidelines.

Open Science

The default science and engineering practice should be open practices (open access publications, open source software, open data, etc). If unsure whether to make information public, ask, otherwise please default to sharing early and often. We do work with organizations that value or require privacy (human subject data, FERPA protected data, proprietary company needs). Always check with the involved parties before sharing when this is the case. This is something that should be discussed at the beginning of all projects.

AIO Weekly Emails

Lab members are expected to send out AIOs to the lab group email list and any collaborators each week.

"AIO" stands for Accomplishments, Issues, and Objectives. This email should contain three bullet lists:

  • what you or your team accomplished in the previous week,
  • what issues you encountered during that week and would like help with, and finally
  • what your objectives are for the coming week.

You should send it to and cc anyone not in the lab that is involved in your project.

The purpose of these are to share what you are doing with me, anyone involved in your project outside the lab, and also to share among the lab members. The latter is the most important one, because many of you may be solving similar problems and can offer help/tips to other members. Doing this will hopefully start conversations among the group. Some notes:

  • If you are working in a team you can send out a single AIO for your team.
  • No need to list your hours worked or who did what in teams.
  • The AIOs do not need to be elaborate, concise is best.
  • It is ok, and preferred, to reply-all if you want to comment on an AIO with a suggestion so everyone can learn.
  • This is not a contest. I don't care how much you accomplish, but I do care that you are working and attempting to make progress. If you had vacation that week or just didn't have much time to work, that's fine, just note that.
  • If you need help via with issues, you need to provide enough detail for the reader to understand the problem.

The AIOs should be sent the day of your meeting with the PI. It can be before (we can use it as an agenda) or after if you prefer to work on the issues with me and then post outstanding ones and the revised objectives post meeting. However you do it, each week the accomplishments should hopefully reflect the objectives you wrote the previous week.

Quarterly Blog Posts

In general, I would like each project to co-write an end of quarter blog post on the lab website describing their accomplishments and results.

Lab Email List

When you join the lab you should request access to the lab email list:!forum/mechmotum

This is both an announcement list and a discussion list for the lab. All lab members need to join and pay attention to this list.

Getting Hired

Undergraduate Research Assistant
Undergraduate research assistants must contact the MAE office and sign some paperwork (patent agreement, etc).
Volunteer Research Assistant
Volunteer researchers must fill out a volunteer form and sign the UCD patent agreement at the MAE office before starting work.

Logging Hours

Paid lab employees must sign into the hour logging system every two weeks to submit their work hours for review. If you worked 0 hours for the time period you still need to submit a time sheet with 0 hours.

If you are a paid undergraduate student worker you are expected to work on average a minimum of 10 hrs/week unless you have pre-approved a break with Jason. The "average" lets you be flexible around winter break, spring break, exams, and other priorities with your school work and life. You will also likely need to work more on lead up to various research deadlines (paper due dates, conferences, etc), so plan for that. You can work a maximum of 20 hrs/week in the academic year and discuss with Jason if you want to work more than 20 hrs/week in the summer. You are expected to contribute work hours during the academic breaks unless you request time off. If work > 20 hrs/wk you will accrue standard vacation and sick leave. If you work < 20 hrs/wk you can take 1 week off in the summer that doesn't count towards your average hours. Always let Jason and your co-employees know what your time off plans are well ahead of time.

Safety Training

Anyone who works with me in a non-class related project must take the MAE Safety Fundamental class (ideally) before working. Contact the MAE saftey coordinator for the next offering and to discuss your specific safety needs.

Anyone who works in a lab space (non-office) and works with physical equipment must take the online Lab Safety Fundamentals course.

Anyone who works in a lab space must take the site specific training offered by that lab manager. This includes the EDSC.

If you are a volunteer, non-undergraduate employee, haven't taken EME 50, or are a graduate student that did not attend UC Davis as an undergrad, you must take the 8 week EDSC orientation course before you can use the shop. Check with the shop on about the schedule for these.


See the EME 185 purchasing guidelines for logistics (for now):

Reference Management

The lab has a shared Zotero group which can be used for lab related reference management (currently 20 GB plan). Zotero is an open source reference management system backed by a consortium of libraries. Create an account and request membership to the mechmotum group. Note that all lab members can view the contents of this library.

Version Control

The currently has group accounts on Gitlab and Github for version control of text based sources (software, text, etc):

The services are more or less interchangeable. The primary reason to use Gitlab is if you need a private repository, as it offers those for free. You may prefer the features of one service over the other.

Lab members should be able to make use of version control and communication through these services. The Software Carpentry Git lesson is a recommended introduction. Create an account on one or both services and request group membership.

Lab Website

The lab website is a Pelican based static website hosted through Github pages. The source for the website is here:

Lab members should help collectively maintain and update the website. Please use the Github pull request mechanism to submit changes for review. As long as one lab member reviews the pull request and approves the changes, the changes can be merged.

Research Ideas

Check out our research ideas Github repository to read, post, and discuss new ideas:

Lab Inventory

There is a common spreadsheet on google drive that lab members should use to track our non-consumable inventory (tools, devices, expensive stuff, computers, 3D printing spools in the EDSC, etc). Anytime you buy something add it to the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can be accessed at this link:

Ask Jason if you don't have permissions for this file.

Undergraduate Travel Awards

The Undergraduate Research Center (URC) administers undergraduate travel awards for up to $500 for students who travel to present their undergraduate research at conferences and meetings of regionally or internationally recognized professional societies. There is an application every Fall, Winter and Spring quarter. More information and eligibility requirements can be found at the following link: