The Project is seen as an important element of your specialist programme. It provides you with a challenge to identify and undertake a detailed study and present a major piece of independent work.
It aims to develop your skills to work independently, researching a topic of your choice, in depth, using relevant concepts and techniques. The process is intended to allow you to develop skills relevant to a career in your chosen specialist area. It is expected that you will not only collect and analyse information, but exhibit other skills such as your ability to plan and sustain a significant piece of laboratory based work, to manage interpersonal relationships and to identify and obtain the necessary resources.
The Independent Engineering Project is a major element of accredited engineering or technical degree. It provides the necessary evidence that you are technically competent and capable of entering the world of work as a professional engineer or technologist.
The aim is to develop your ability to work independently, in a chosen topic, using relevant technical research and design concepts, and analytical, test, measurement and evaluation techniques, in order to produce a finished artefact or product.
You will be expected not merely to collect, analyse and apply information, but also to exhibit other skills such as the ability to plan, manage and produce a significant technical piece of work.
On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:
1.Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources.
2.Maintain an ongoing record, and write a substantial final analytical technical report containing an extensive critical evaluation of the methods adopted and the final outcome of the project.
3.Present and discuss in a viva voce setting your technical project in depth, clearly communicating the critical issues and key features of the project and be prepared to answer detailed questions.
The final technical report and project logbook evidence will depend on the nature of the particular project.
Projects may be classified as one of two types:
- An “investigative study” will include experiments or tests on equipment or systems already available. The main item of assessment is the analytical report of the investigation. The prescribed word count is not more than 7000 words (not including appendices or programme listings).
- A “practical project” where the main assessment weighting is for a hardware, software (or hardware/software) artefact, and a technical evaluative report where the conclusion/recommendation should be substantial and analytical. The report word count is less than that for the ‘investigative study’ and should be no more than 6000 words (not including appendices or program listings).
You are advised to meet your project tutor at least once every two weeks, even if it is only for a brief update of progress. It is your responsibility to contact your tutor and arrange these meetings. Your progress meetings should always consider, amongst others, the following:
- The aims of the project, and any modifications that may be needed.
- Progress made to date, both in terms of research and practical work, and how this compares to the original project plan.
- Current utilisation of resources (monies, laboratory, software, etc.) and future projections of utilisation.
- Key issues and challenges fundamental to the progress of your project (i.e. circuit designs, theoretical models, availability of resources, etc.).
- Assessment deadlines and progress towards meeting these.
Additionally, information on the following issues will be available throughout the year; this may be given in Lecture/Web or Paper form:
- Project Induction - Selecting and Planning a Project
- Introduction to Project Facilities
- Writing a Project Proposal
- Writing the Interim Report
- Preparing for the VIVA EXAMINATION
Note that exact dates and times for these sessions will be posted on the Blackboard course resources notice board for this module.
You will be allocated an academic project tutor and you should make full use of them in planning your project. You should regularly discuss your project plan with your supervisor and start discussing the report well before the time to start writing. Ideally, you should seek comments on the draft of each section that you write.
You should consider the number of hours allocated to you each week for your project (total hours for the year are 240 hours), and make a decision regarding when you are going to meet this commitment. You should remember that the project deadline is a few weeks earlier than the end of the summer semester and hence a commitment of about ten hours per week for the project may be typical.
Some useful tips include:
- Before sitting down to work on your project, plan what you are going to do and make sure you have what you need available to you.
- If you are not achieving your targets, put an alternative plan in place. Do not think that any problems will just go away.
- Arrange meetings with your project tutor in advance and make time to prepare for these meetings.
- Set yourself realistic targets to be completed by fixed times and dates.
- Make a log of your work in a notebook used only for project work.
- Keep records of all reference material that you may eventually use in your report, ideally using the same format.
- Write the final report in parallel with the main project activity, and start as early as possible. This will leave you with plenty of opportunities to fine-tune the content.
Checklist for Preparing a Technical Presentation
- Have you thought about what the audience needs to know?
- Have you prepared notes that will help guide you through the presentation but not prevent you from looking at the audience?
- Have you prepared appropriate visual aids to enhance your presentation?
- Have you worked out what you want to say about each slide?
- Have you tried out your visual aids?
- Have you practised and timed your whole presentation?
- Have you familiarised yourself with any special equipment?
- If you have slides/video, are they ready to go into the computer?
- Are your notes and slides in order?
- Do you have a watch?
The reader(s) of your report will be interested in the full range of activities that you have undertaken. Whatever structure you select, they are likely to want to know at some time the following:
- The purpose of the report?
- How you conducted your investigation?
- What methods you used to gather your evidence?
- What you found out?