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.
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 drpaulhoole.blogspot.com)
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?
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
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)
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)
(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?
4.1 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
5.1 Do a Flow Chart
5.3 Provide Gantt chart and Major Milestones
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.