Sunday, 13 April 2014

Learn: Notes on University Final Year Projects

Notes on Final Year Projects
Single, most important component of your degree programme. Much of the following notes are taken from Final Year Individual Projects, Student Guide 2013-2014, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College, University of London, UK. March 2014 Revision.)
A.     Project Performance will answer the following questions about you:
1.       How independent are you professionally as an engineering candidate?
2.       How capable are you of producing a work of your own imagination, knowledge and ability?
3.       How good are you at setting out a goal, planning with measurable strategies and successfully accomplishing the goal?
4.       Are you capable of formulating a question and finding the answer, or setting out a set of observations and convincingly answering them, or identifying a problem and getting a solution to it within a set period of time, long term?
5.       Are you able to apply what you have learned in class room and laboratory?

B.     Time period-
 should have been about 55 working days, part time; but now about 30 working days, part time (except possibly during the 3 weeks inter semester break, 15 days full time?).
Once you decide on the tile- you probably could change it within the first month- check with Project Coordinator.
C.     Tutorial sessions with Supervisor:
1.       Weekly meetings, 30 to 60 minutes. Even if meetings less frequent (say once in 2 weeks, depends on supervisors too), make sure that you keep him weekly informed of progress (e.g. by email.)
2.       Remember the project is your own, hence the work is to be done by you and not your supervisor.
3.       Go well prepared for the Tutorial sessions:
(1)    Prepare to demonstrate the progress you had made on the previous week.
(2)    Go prepared with a set of questions that you want to ask him.
(3)    Tell him what you have prepared to do next week.
(4)    If you and supervisor agree, have a weekly record book, with what you have done (each student) over the past week, and have him sign it after checking during the tutorial session. More important when more than one of you as in a group.

D.     Expenses
Make a list of items that you may need to purchase early, get your supervisor’s approval and submit to the right place with an approval from the Project Coordinator (who is normally in charge of approving expenses.)
Where large expenses may crop up (e.g. travel) it would take time to have it approved or not; hence plan early and give enough time. Have contingency plan in case the expense is not approved.
Where new, expensive equipment is required, (a) if it is available in the department, book early and make necessary arrangements yourself – with approval from supervisor. If it needs to be purchased, make a case for its need after your project is over, and try to get it purchased on time.
If there is a second supervisor or examiner, once in a while check with him your progress and his feedback, occasionally.
E.     Schedule the work over the period available.
1.       Literature survey and review
2.       Measurements and Analysis, or Analysis and modelling
3.       Interim Report or Thesis 1.
4.       Design, Hardware or Software Design and Tests
5.       Full Implementation
6.       Testing, Evaluation and Conclusions
7.       Final Report Writing
F.      Dangers to avoid:
1.       Being slow or lazy to start work
2.       Not giving enough time over each week for the project.
3.       Failing to regularly meet with your supervisor.
4.       Not getting needed resources on time to push forward.
5.       Failure to have a backup plan if unable to progress as initially planned.
6.       Poor at time management and getting caught up with other things which sap your strength and focus.
7.       Over ambitious or Under ambitious.
8.       Not enough time devoted to report Writing.

G.     What will be an outstanding Project? In ascending order of credit (bad to outstanding):
1.       A report which is a rehash of Wikipedia stuff. Disappointing.
2.       A Survey report with little hard validation or analysis or implementation.
3.       A pretty straightforward work (e.g. a working circuit from something already existing).
4.       An objective comparison of field surveyed, with solid validation of conclusions
5.       A straightforward implementation project applied in a new and novel way.
6.       Project with sound background research with convincing theoretical or mathematical analysis.
7.       Project which combines sound background research, and working hardware or software implementation.
8.       Project which combines sound background research and working software implementation
9.       (6), (7) or (8) combined with a well written report: presentation, logic and attractive. Hence an A grade project will contain Research and/or Industrial application component.
10.   As (9) but one additional piece – the work that has broken new ground. New application, new scientific insight.

H.    Key Components:
1.       Background Research, Literature Search (15 to 20 papers and/or books)
2.       Competence. How good are you in managing and organizing? How dependable were you and punctual? Were you professionally and technically capable? What was the original, personal contribution that you made?
3.       Level of technical Achievement. Valid and correct work? Smart? Practical and useful? Up to date? Etc.
4.       Final Report and presentation. How good are in communicating your work in writing and orally?

I.       Two or Three reports
1.       1. One page Aim and Plan. Objective and approach to finding solution to problem, explanation to observations or question to be answered. One page. Within the first two to four weeks. Be clear What the project is to deliver and How you are going to go about it. ALL students are encouraged to do this and present it to their supervisors to check whether they are on the right track.
2.       2. Thesis 1.  Compulsory. Project Specification. Background. Implementation Plan. Evaluation Plan. Preliminary work, findings and results – if any.
3.      3. Final Thesis/Report, Thesis 2. Compulsory

J.      Writing a Proposal (from
Contents - General
Be precise in stating objectives. Why is it so important to do achieve the objectives?
To the point. Clarity. Achievable Goals.
What is special about the proposal? Will anyone want to give money for what you are doing?
What are the potential applications, benefit to the society, to the research and innovation community?
Contents Specific

1.      Title (within 25 words)

2.       Abstract. Purpose. Importance. Background and Feasibility. Briefly- data available, hypotheses, methodology, expected results, potential application and benefit. Abstract should seek to set out the important points and goals of your proposal.

3.      1. Introduction. Background.
1 to 2 pages
Introduction. Literature Survey. Background. Crucial to grab attention.  Scope. Review important literature. What is the importance of the research? Theoretical basis for the research. Major benefits of the work. Avoid simplistic and obvious statements. Do not waste time and space.
3.1  What are you researching on, what is the area?
3.2  Brief overview of important literature
3.3  What work is left undone which you are going to address?
3.4  Hypotheses. Specific predictions about how two or more variables are connected. Answer to a question – the answer may be tested and validated. Discuss alternative hypotheses as well and defend yours. How did you arrive at them and why does it seem the best possible answer.
3.5  Aim and Objectives.  Aim- a general statement of what should be the outcome. Objective – steps to answer the question and test the hypotheses. Objective must be tested and validated by reasonable experiments within a reasonable time frame and budget.
3.6  Methodology. Brief
3.7  Benefits. Applications.
4.      Proposal- Main text
Proposal- Main text (10 pages)
2. Purpose (2 to 3 pages)
Points to note when writing
1.       Why is this project important?
2.       Benefit and Application to which industry or people?
3.       How is the work going to be important to the institute and expertise to be gained from the work?
Aim and Objectives.  Aim- a general statement of what should be the outcome. Objective – steps to answer the question and test the hypotheses. Objective must be tested and validated by reasonable experiments within a reasonable time frame and budget
Why is this research important? Based on Literature Survey (15 to 20 papers/books reviewed to the point). More extensive literature review.
Benefit and Application to which industry or people

3. Literature Review
 (2 to 3 pages)

From available body of knowledge, from publications, can a clear case be made that your work will fill in a gap and is important?
What is going to be new, novel and attractive? What are the possibilities of a new approach or device or system?How is the work going to be important to the institute and expertise to be gained from the work?

4. Methodology
(2 pages)
4.1  Route to reach that goal
4.2  How to measure progress at each milestone?
4.3  When can you say that you have completed the work and the goal is reached?

5.       5. Flow Chart and Gantt Chart
(3 pages)
5.1  Do a Flow Chart
5.2  Budget
5.3  Provide Gantt chart and Major Milestones

Writing Style
Keep sentences shorts. Keep paragraphs short. Pack it with punches. Clear Structure. Pictures and Tables are important (not to be overdone).  If guidelines are there (word limit, font type and size, borders, etc.) stick to them.

6.      6. Summary
A well expressed and to the point summary that stands out for quality, clarity and purpose. Conclusions.

Prof. Hoole, April 2014.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Journey of Life: Trees and sandwiches, Tree and God’s visit, Eating chicken

Journey of Life: Trees and sandwiches, Tree and God’s visit, Eating chicken
Dr. Paul Hoole

Trees and sandwiches shared. Recently at the conference in the morning I had pieces of quarter sandwiches. Then took another extra 4 (so much left over with the boycott) I was walking back to the office when under a tree close to the office some four young boys 10- 12 yrs, were throwing stones to get something like pulliyampalam (what is the English name) from the tree. I walked past them and could not but stop myself and asked them whether they wanted sandwiches. Amazing, just like boys- all 4 jumped close to me and excitedly said Yes we want. I gave the 4 and watched them eagerly gobble it up. Then I asked them whether wanted more. Of course, Yes was the answer. I walked back to the hall collected another eight and gave it to them and left them excitedly talking and eating the sandwiches. In fact I missed the conference dinner from the previous night. But looking back - it was at the same hotel where I had another conference dinner a week ago- I knew I was much happier this sharing of sandwiches with these four boys under the roof of a tree than eating all the luxury food at a hotel buffet.

A Tree and God’s visit. Trees are so much part of our lives, just as animal pets pay significant roles in our lives. In the Bible there is one touching incident when Abraham entertained known visitors to a meal under a tree. His nomadic tent was probably set up close to large, shade giving, breezy trees. One hot afternoon while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent he saw three travelers and invited them to rest under a tree close to his tent. The three visitors turned out to be from heaven. As they say under the shade of the tree he got his wife to prepare a meal for the visitors. While they ate sitting under the tree he stood by probably under the tree as well, watching them eat and to attend to any needs they may have. His wife, as is the custom in the East, was hidden behind the curtain and either peeping to see how they were enjoying her cooking or to listen into any conversation they had with her husband. At one point one of the visitors told the childless Abraham that his wife, both very old in age by now, will miraculously have a child by Abraham. Not surprisingly the wife, thinking herself well shielded, laughed to hear this. When God accused Abraham that his wife laughed at His promise; she quickly tried to deny that, knowing that it is offensive to laugh at someone else’s well-meant benevolence and promise. But God, sitting under the train eating the meal prepared by the wife, was firm in repeating that she laughed. But the promise was not withdrawn.

Chicken no more. Recently I was invited for a meal by an Asian colleague. While I and two other men were eating, the women folk sit apart, and were also very attentive to how we were eating. Often a lady would step in fill your plate if any dish was diminishing very fast. Indeed they like to see you eat well and enjoy what has been prepared. If you are not careful, you could eat up their share as well, since they eat after the men are finished. There was a church worker went to teach the Bible at a village church. The host family had prepared a sumptuous chicken meal and rice for him. The visiting man had without proper self-control evidently kept on eating, as the host kept offering more chicken. Later the host complained to me that the visitor had eaten up all the chicken, that in the end the visitor's plate was full of chicken bones – and his wife and children had to go without chicken curry for their lunch.