Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured
Independent Project (Civil Engineering) Module
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.
1. PROJECT DEADLINES
During the academic year there are a number of project related deadlines for which specific evidence of your work must be submitted. The deadlines and relevant piece of work are as follows.
INDEPENDENT ENGINEERING PROJECT
Date of Approval
September 2016/17 and October 2019/20
Total Number of Learning Hours
project, independent, research, investigative study, practical project, proposal, report.
Blended/Face to face
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.
Module Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Definition of a project, project life cycle phases, project planning tools, risk analysis, resource management, managing project delivery.
Applying structured design methods: clarification of need, conceptual design, embodiment design, detail design. Design for civil engineering, manufacture and sustainability.
You will be expected to identify a technical project related to your final year studies. The project could originate from a list provided by the Module Leader or from a relevant personal interest of yours. All projects originating from you must be approved by the Module Leader prior to commencement and be sufficiently technically demanding to justify inclusion in the final stages of an accredited degree.
The project supervisor, allocated after submission of the proposal, is primarily responsible for monitoring your conduct and involvement as well as providing some guidance when deemed necessary. A second supervisor is chosen to complement the expertise of the project supervisor and to provide internal moderation. You are expected to meet your project supervisors on a regular basis, ideally at least once a fortnight, throughout the year for guidance in strategy, implementation and report writing.
The project proposal, (Learning outcome 1) is based on a preliminary survey of the problem area. It includes an outline of the scope and objectives of the study such as expected project outcomes, a plan of work, an assessment of the resources required for completion and an evaluation of safety and ethical implications (the former expressed as a formal risk assessment).
The project supervisor may ask for revisions to the project proposal and must finally agree to it, within three weeks of it being submitted. The proposal will form an important part of the subsequent management of the project and will contribute to establishing the criteria for the assessment of the project.
A project logbook should be maintained on a continuous basis by you. This forms the agenda for the regular meetings between the project supervisor and you, and may be an e-log or a more traditional record. During the course of the project, you will meet your supervisor regularly to discuss progress, as evidenced verbally and by the logbook. This allows problems to be dealt with at a retrievable point in the course of the project. It is the responsibility of you to ensure that these meetings occur. Practical work must be conducted in University premises, unless explicitly agreed otherwise by the project supervisor. Any practical work, whether on University or other premises, must not begin before the risk assessment and ethical clearance has been agreed.
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).
NOTE: Purely discursive projects ARE NOT allowed as this module forms part of an IET accredited programme and as such any project undertaken must contain significant practical or technical investigative work as the basis of the written report.
All practical work must be completed by the agreed deadline. The project report and project logbook will be submitted on the specified deadline. You are required to submit two bound, word-processed copies of a report of your work, and a version in electronic format.
Before the report has been submitted, you will be required to attend a viva voce session to present and discuss the project in depth, and clearly communicate its critical issues and key features.
Module Learning and Teaching Methods
The opening lectures will cover (i) project planning and management, (ii) investigation and research methods, and (iii) design methods, and will review University resources and how to use them. There will also be occasional lectures during the course of the project period to provide further input as appropriate, for example on writing the final report.
To encourage an early start, a seminar for all students progressing to Level 6 will be provided towards the end of Level 5. Project guidance will also be provided during the University Induction Week, which is held at the beginning of the Academic Year.
You will be allocated a supervisor appropriate to your chosen area(s) of study after proposal submission. As the project should relate to final year studies, there should not be a problem in allocating a supervisor with appropriate expertise. In the rare cases where this is not possible, for example in highly specialised areas, special arrangements will need to be made. Exceptionally, you may be advised to choose another topic.
You will be largely self‑directed but will be expected to see your project supervisor on a regular basis over the two semesters, with a formal progress meeting in each semester.
Scheduled learning and teaching activities: 10%
Guided independent study: 90%
Assessment Weighting: 100% Coursework
The assessment is to be conducted through a project proposal, project logbook, final report, and a viva voce session. Guidance will be given on expected report format. Evidence of a literature survey, sound working practices (e.g. adoption of a structured design method), and application of relevant theory is expected.
You will be required to present your work to an assessment panel of two or more academic staff including the project supervisor and may include the external examiner.
You must negotiate your project with your allocated project supervisor by presenting a written project proposal. This will include a literature review, budget outline, risk assessment, and ethical statement (where necessary). You will be given detailed formative feedback on your project proposal. You are then expected to see your project supervisor on a regular basis, at least once a fortnight over the two semesters, during which you will be given spoken and written feedback.
CW1: 80% Learning Outcomes 1 & 2
This coursework formally assesses all written elements of the project, including proposal, report and logbook, with marks distributed 10:80:10 respectively. The written technical report incorporates evidence of literature survey, relevant theory, design and project management methods applied application of professional working practices, construction, testing and evaluation. The length of this report will be dependent on the project type (see above). The student will maintain a continuous record in the form of a logbook detailing the research, construction, analysis, calculations, methodology of work conducted throughout the year and submit this along with the report.
CW2: 20% Learning Outcome 3
This assessment consists of a project viva voce giving an opportunity for you to discuss the critical issues and key features of the project. This will take the form of a 15 minute presentation and a 15 minute period for questioning of the student in terms of their involvement with the project. Due consideration will be given to any hardware or software produced by you during the project; this will have been demonstrated to the supervisor prior to the viva voce.
- The Circuit Designer’s Companion. Wilson, Peter, Williams, Tim. Newnes. , 2012.
- The Project Manager’s Pocket Book. Posner, Keith, Applegarth, Michael, Hailstone, Phil. Management Pocketbooks. 2008
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.
The limit to project expenditure is £75 total cost.
Expenditure above these limits can only be approved after submission of a Revision of Project Expenditure Limit form, which must be agreed by the Project Tutor and Head of Subject. Only one application to revise the project expenditure limit may be made by each student. A copy of this form is available as Appendix C
PLANNING YOUR PROJECT
Planning is one of the most important aspects in undertaking a project. It is important that you think carefully about the aims of the project, the path you need to take to achieve those aims and the resources you will need. You should develop a work plan that sets realistic, manageable targets in a time frame that accounts for all the demands on your time. The plan must be achievable in the time you have and you should have a number of aims that represent achievements on the path to a completed project. Structure your project carefully. State what information you will need to seek during the course of the project and how you will achieve its retrieval. Outline the design methodology you will use and the resources required to support it. Describe how you will execute each stage of the project, including methods of evaluation and testing, to ensure that each stage supports the overall objectives. Clearly lay out your plan in chronological order, using a Gantt or similar. Identify potential problems and make contingency plans as necessary. Consider financial aspects of the project at all stages of planning. It is also advisable to plan the formal writing of your report from the start of the project. Your report should be a complete record of your activities and achievements throughout every stage of your project.
One of the most common and most serious errors is not to leave enough time for writing up.
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.
THE PROJECT PROPOSAL
The project proposal should be no more than 4 sides of A4 type written using 12point Times New Roman Justified text. It should consist of the following sections, with the following numbering scheme:
1. Project Title
2. Name and Programme of Study
3. Aims of the Project
4. Problem Definition
5. Plan of Work
7. Appendices: Risk Assessment (Form available on the UDo module site)
8. Consideration of Need for Ethics approval (Form available on the UDo module site)
Ideally this is a brief title describing the main project theme.
e.g. Design of a Domestic Security System.
Name and Programme of Study
Clearly identify your name, the programme of study.
Aims of the Project
Between 3 and 6 aims (more does not necessarily mean better) of the form shown below as an example.
1. To review the current market requirements for domestic security systems.
2. To design a domestic security system for a component cost under £25.
3. To build and test a security system in a domestic environment.
These aims will provide a benchmark against which the success/failure of the project can be judged. It is important to be concise and clear in terms of what you are hoping to achieve.
This section describes the facts, figures, technical background and any other information that is needed to define the project being undertaken. The aims of the project should be justified in terms of their relevance in a technical/commercial/social context, given the financial and time constraints placed on the project. Previous work in the area should be described, along with an explanation of how the proposed project builds on this work. Any special features of the project should be identified (e.g. industrial involvement, commercial potential, novel applications, intellectual property rights) and described in detail.
Plan of Work
This should include a timetable of events with brief explanatory notes. A critical path should be identified, if it exists. Each activity should include an estimate of the time needed to complete the element. It is vitally important to ensure you plan for lead times on items that require purchasing or manufacture. Your plan should clearly identify the progress you expect to have made at the time of the interim report. A planning chart (Gantt chart), of the type shown below, may be useful to help you identify when different tasks will need to take place.
Any costs above the specified expenditure limit of the project should be identified here if possible, and will be subject to the application for Revision of Project Expenditure Limit. This section should also describe particular laboratory facilities/access or equipment that is required.
Risk Assessment: A Risk Assessment form must be completed and attached to your proposal. A copy of the Risk Assessment form may be obtained from the student office.
The project proposal must be submitted no later than the date specified at the front of this guide book.
Your proposal must be SUBMITTED ONLINE.
THE PROJECT LOGBOOK
The Log-book is an important element of your project. Through your Log-book you will provide ongoing evidence of practical activities carried out for the project. You must take your log book with you when you meet up with your project tutor as your tutor will wish to see evidence of work you have carried out since the last meeting. The log book will form a growing `information base` about your project and as such it will form a useful reference when it comes to writing the final project report.
Using your Log-book you will provide information on all of these activities that you carry out. Further, it is expected that you will not only collect and analyse information, but also demonstrate an ability to interpret and assess the performance of techniques applied in different situations, again your log-book write-up will include such information.
All project work should be written up in the log-book promptly at the end of or during laboratory or research activities. It is not particularly important for the log-book to be excessively neat and tidy! It is intended as an `online` record of your thought processes, detailing how you tackled a particular problem and the solution you came up with. Having said this, it is important that the marking tutor can read, follow and understand the work you have carried out.
The following information should act as a guide to the typical entries expected:
- Log-Book Front Cover: On the outside cover of your log-book state: Your Name, Module title, module code, University, School and Subject Group.
- Date/time: Make sure that you date the start of work on each task.
- Title: Always give a title for a new task/experiment.
- Objectives: State any specific objectives at the start of each task.
- New Page: Always start a new task on a new page.
- Background Theory: Any background theory specific to the task should be explained and relevant mathematical relationships stated.
- Example Calculations: If you need to use a mathematical relationship, show all working in full. If you provide a MATLAB or `C` routine to calculate the maths for you then show one or two example calculations against which results from you routine can be checked (and to show me that you know what you are doing!).
- Commentary: You should provide comments and detailed information throughout the log book.
- Programs: Any programs used/developed for a particular task should be thoroughly documented and a full listing cut to size and glued into your book and referenced in the written text.
- Tabular & Graphical data: Any tables or graphs generated as part of your work on a task should be printed, cut to size and glued into the log-book.
- Problems and Analysis: Each log book task should include your own comments detailing problems you have encountered, methods used to overcome problems and an analysis of the final outcome.
Keep your Log-book up to date & expect to have your Log-book checked periodically throughout the course.
Log-book hand-in: The log-book will be handed in for final assessment to the student information centre towards the end of the module.
The project logbook must be submitted on the date specified at the front of this guide book.
You are expected to take your log book with you when you meet your project tutor for regular meetings throughout the year
Your log book must be handed in at the student office.
THE ORAL PRESENTATIONS/VIVA
For further guidance and information on technical presentations refer to the `Guide to Technical Presentations` towards the end of this information booklet.
Length of Presentation
Your presentation should last no longer than 10 minutes. You will be stopped on 15 minutes if you have not finished. There will then be a further 15 minute period for questions (viva).
You are expected to attend for the full session of your own presentation session.
A PC, Projector and Board (plus pens) will be available. Any additional requirements should be discussed, in advance, with both your project tutor and the chair of the session.
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?
…and on the day -
- 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 exact date and time of your presentation will be published approximately two weeks before the presentations are due to take place.
THE PROJECT REPORT
For further guidance and information on technical report writing, refer to the `Guide to Report Writing` which forms Appendix A of this module handbook.
A formal and tight structure is one of the particular characteristics of a report. The structure of a report should be made explicit with the sections marked out by headings and subheadings and numbered in a systematic way.
PROJECT REPORT SUBMISSIONS
The Project Report must be submitted no later than the date specified at the front of this guide book.
Your report must be handed into the room 202
An electronic copy should be submitted, see appendix G for more information.
The following should be used as guidance for submitting your project reports.
Detailed information on the structure of reports is given in the `Guide to Report Writing` towards the end of this information booklet.
Number of Copies
You should submit TWO copies of your project report.
The cover should list the following: the project title, author, project tutor, full programme of study title, stage, month and year of submission (e.g. April 2018).
Both copies should be COMB-BOUND.
Text should be 1.5 OR DOUBLE LINE-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman or 11pt Arial. Paragraphs should be justified and separated with double line spacing. New chapters should start on a fresh page. All tables and figures should have titles and be numbered consecutively using the format Figure<chapter><number>. Table <chapter><number> (e.g. Table 1.1, Table 1.2, Table 1.3, etc. for the first three tables in Chapter 1, Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2, Figure 2.3, etc. for the first three figures in Chapter 2).
You should discuss the arrangement for storing project builds and equipment with your project tutor. They should not be submitted to the Student Office.
COPIES OF YOUR FINAL PROJECT REPORT WILL NEED TO BE AVAILABLE FOR THE EXTERNAL EXAMINER AT THE ASSESSMENT BOARD
Assessment generic grade descriptors and specific IEP module grade descriptors.
Outstanding; high to very high standard; a high level of critical analysis and evaluation, incisive original thinking; commendable originality; exceptionally well researched; high quality presentation; exceptional clarity of ideas; excellent coherence and logic. Trivial or very minor errors.
A very good standard; a very good level of critical analysis and evaluation; significant originality; well researched; a very good standard of presentation; pleasing clarity of ideas; thoughtful and effective presentation; very good sense of coherence and logic; minor errors only.
Second Div 1
A good standard; a fairly good level of critical analysis and evaluation; some evidence of original thinking or originality; quite well researched; a good standard of presentation; ideas generally clear and coherent, some evidence of misunderstandings; some deficiencies in presentation.
Second Div 2
A sound standard of work; a fair level of critical analysis and evaluation; little evidence of original thinking or originality; adequately researched; a sound standard of presentation; ideas fairly clear and coherent, some significant misunderstandings and errors; some weakness in style or presentation but satisfactory overall.
Overall marginally unsatisfactory; some sound aspects but some of the following weaknesses are evident; inadequate critical analysis and evaluation; little evidence of originality; not well researched; standard of presentation unacceptable; ideas unclear and incoherent; some significant errors and misunderstandings. Marginal fail.
Well below the pass standard; a poor critical analysis and evaluation; no evidence of originality; poorly researched; standard of presentation totally unacceptable; ideas confused and incoherent, some serious misunderstandings and errors. A clear fail well short of the pass standard. At the bottom of the range the work demonstrates nothing of merit.
No work has been submitted.
Academic offence notation
Applies to proven instances of academic offence.
Appendix A GUIDE TO TECHNICAL REPORT WRITING
The Purpose of this Guide
As part of your project module and in preparation for your future career, you will be required from time-to-time to write reports on a variety of topic areas. Reports are not intended to be just extended essays, but structured to carefully specified terms of reference. This in itself is a highly relevant skill for managers and all writers of reports who are increasingly called upon to provide advice on various issues in a formal manner.
This guide has been prepared to assist you in acquiring these all important skills so that you may eventually develop your own report writing style, whilst at the same time not losing sight of the need to structure the report in a professional format as required by the terms of reference.
Good report writing is a skill that is developed through practice and increasing confidence, and it is hoped that in the early stages of report writing you will use this guide regularly as a source of reference.
Types of Report
According to the dictionary a report is “an account given or opinion formally expressed, after investigation or consideration”. It will be seen from this definition that a report is considered to be formal, and is required to give an account of the matter covered or to state an opinion on it; and sometimes both are required. In most cases, conclusions have to be drawn by the author of the report, and, often, recommendations given.
Generally speaking there are two types of report, though every report will not fall neatly in to one or other of these categories.
The first is the individual report. This is usually expressed in the first person and is the kind used for internal routine reports and short reports on day-to-day matters.
The second kind of report is the general report. This is more formal and is generally written in the third person. Such reports are frequently composed for external or public circulation and are often quite lengthy.
Writing Your Report
This part of the Guide to Report Writing is primarily concerned with the task of writing up your report.
The three major parts of your report are the planning stage, the work itself and the writing up. However, you would be well advised not to leave all the writing up until the end.
Even at the planning stage of your report you should be able to work out an outline structure for the final submission which you can then refer to and possibly modify as you proceed with your activities. As your report develops you should then be able to write up certain sections in draft form to fit in with the planned structure. For instance, it should be possible for you to write up the background material at quite an early stage.
Towards the end of your report there will come a time when you have to call a halt to the planning and execution, and move into the final stage in which you write up your report.
All your efforts in planning and carrying out your investigation will be wasted unless your results are written up in such a way that they can be easily understood by others. Remember, if your findings are not communicated effectively they will be overlooked.
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?
A description of what you did is in itself not enough; you will be expected to analyse the situation that you have found, to evaluate the data you collected and to reach conclusions and/or make recommendations which arise out of the work that you have done.
Whatever the actual content of your investigation, the structure of your final report must always be evident to the reader and should allow the findings and recommendations to be presented in a logical fashion. What now follows is a suggested format which you can use as a basis for devising an appropriate format for your particular investigation. It is most unlikely that the people reading your report will start at the beginning and read through to the end. That usually only happens when reading a novel or a story. Equally, it is unlikely that you will write section one of your report first and then continue to write it in a sequential order through to the conclusions at the end. In fact, you should find the pattern of writing that suits you best.
If you are at all apprehensive about what is involved in writing up your report, find the easiest and most attractive part of it and write that first to build up your confidence.
In outlining a possible report format, use will be made of fictitious examples to illustrate the points made.
Include a title page, incorporating the title of your report, your name and the date the report was completed. The title should accurately reflect the nature of your study and should be brief and to the point. A main title and sub-title clarifies the purpose of the study. The contents and layout of a title page for a fictitious report appears in the box below.
Independent Engineering Project Module
The Design and Build of an Automated Position Measurement System
BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering
Acknowledgements and Thanks
You may wish to acknowledge the help given to you in carrying out your investigation and the preparation of your report. If so, acknowledgements come after the title page. In the example given it would be appropriate to thank any organisation for providing data and other information to assist in the study.
The abstract should state clearly and concisely the terms of reference, scope, method and conclusions reached in the report. An abstract should never exceed 250 words and may be considerably shorter. Here is an example.
Traditional methods of document production in the University of Life are described, along with the trade union agreements covering this area. An analysis of the different types of documents produced and a survey of the aspirations of personnel involved have been conducted. Possible advances in document preparation are compared and the financial and training implication outlined, leading to a recommendation for a pilot study in 1998.
Table of Contents
The table of contents is an essential component of a report and should be as complete as necessary to make it useful to other readers. An example contents page is shown below
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