Level 3 BEng & MEng Individual Project Project Proposal
Why do we ask for this project proposal?
When undertaking a large project it is essential that the project is well thought out and well planned. Good projects are almost always based on a sensible, detailed and coherent project plan. The purpose of this report is to demonstrate to your supervisor that the project you will undertake has realistic objectives and addresses a genuine engineering problem or research question. It also demonstrates that you are taking a sound scientific approach and that you understand the engineering context of your project. This report is designed to show that what you are attempting to do is sensible, achievable and will allow you to meet the academic goals that we require for a Level 3 project.
You should first identify why the project is necessary before then identifying what it is you plan to do. Answering the key question of “why” requires that you have some knowledge of the engineering background to your subject area. There is no point in repeating what others have done, so you need to understand what others have done before you can properly tell us why your project is necessary. Therefore, a literature survey forms an essential part of your project planning. You need to demonstrate that your knowledge of the subject area is sufficient to allow you to justify the reasons for doing your project. This will also help you to avoid repeating work done by others and it should help you to decide what you want to achieve from the project.
The progress report is essential in making sure that you have planned your project properly and that you have a set of sensible and achievable goals. It is in your own interests to put a lot of effort into planning your project and to understanding the literature surrounding your subject area; this will help you to achieve the best possible project.
Format of the project proposal:
The first part of your project proposal should contain a general introduction to your project in which you discuss the background of the subject area. You should then go on to provide a literature review in which you expand on the key issues that relate to your project. It is here that you must demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of your subject area to justify the reasons behind why you need to do this project. This literature review is not the one that will go in your final report; it is a summary of what you have found so far and need only deliver information sufficient to allow you to make the case for the subject of your project.
Once you have made the case for why you are doing the project, you should then go on to discuss the aims and objectives of your project. The aims and objectives are very important and are required so that your project supervisor can make sure that what you want to do will enable you to deliver a good project.
You should then discuss the methods you will use to deliver the aims and objectives of your project. Decide how are you going to carry out your project and what methods will you use (e.g. experiment, CFD, FEA etc). Tell us why you need to use these methods and describe how these methods will enable you to deliver the aims of the project.
Once you have done this you need to plan your project. Split the things you are going to do in your project up into a number of different tasks. These tasks should be based on your project methodology so that once you have completed all of these tasks you will have completed the project. In your main report, write a short description of what you plan to do in each task. You must have a sufficient number of tasks (i.e. this must be sufficiently detailed) to allow you to properly track the progress of your project and for your supervisor to judge whether your project is realistic and will also deliver on the aims and objectives. Finally, relate these tasks directly to your Gantt chart, so that we can see exactly when you plan to do these tasks and in what order.
Some further advice
Start with the following questions
Why does this work need to be done?
What work is to be done?
Then persuade the reader that your technical approach will deliver the work that is to be done, and that you have a plausible management plan to enable you to do this. You also need to convince us that you have the resources in place to complete the task within the stated time and cost constraints (e.g. experimental or computational facilities).
Introduction and literature review
Start your introduction by providing a general discussion of the subject area and the underlying issues and problems that relate to your project area. This should be an overview and it should be easy to read and understand for someone who is not an expert in this area.
Follow this with a literature review, which should be more detailed and must provide a technical justification for your project. There is no point in doing something if it has been done before. So why do you need to do something different? What does the literature say? What problems with previous work can you identify? This literature review should be more detailed and provide technical justification.
Do not repeat background material that we teach you in lectures. For example, we do not want to see three pages of the Navier Stokes equation! The knowledge that we deliver in lectures is not, in itself, what we are looking for. We do not want you to quote back to us what we have already taught you. Your review should describe your understanding of the knowledge in the literature and show an appreciation of where your project fits in the context of the literature. We are looking for a critical appraisal of the literature and analysis that supports your arguments regarding why the project is necessary. Note the crucial difference between repeating existing knowledge in the literature (which is not what we want), and analysing, discussing and critically appraising the literature (which is what we do want). Tell us what you are thinking.
Your literature review must focus on the problem you are investigating. What have others done, how did they do it, how is it relevant to your project, how does it guide your project plan and methodology, and so on.
You should try and find references from a wide range of sources including journals, books and web pages. Please note that plagiarism will not be tolerated and disciplinary action will be taken if you are suspected of plagiarism – please ensure that you read the University guidance on plagiarism. If you use a verbatim quotation from any source, you must enclose it within inverted commas and you must properly reference each quotation. However it is bad practice to fill your report with long quotations. This suggests that you are unable to read and understand what is being said in the literature, and unable to put this understanding into your own words. Therefore, do not fill your literature review with long quotations. Also, please make sure that you cite all figures and drawings that are not your own.
Project Aims and Objectives
Think very carefully about why you are doing this project. If you understand why you are doing this project then you should be able to answer the question “what do I want to achieve”. This is your project aim: what is it you want to deliver when the project has finished? This should be short and to the point.
Once you have your aim, what do you need to do in order to achieve this aim? Break your project down into individual goals, or targets, that you will need to address in order to deliver the aim of your project. These are your project objectives.
Project methodology and tasks
Tell us how you plan to carry out the project. What equipment/software will you use? What do you intend to do, how do you intend to do it? Justify the methods you have chosen.
When developing your project plan, you should highlight any threat(s) to your project (i.e. any risks preventing you from completing on time). These may be technical or logistical issues, such as the scheduling of workshop activities or the availability of resources, for example computer software or experimental facilities. You should describe these issues and discuss how you will overcome them (i.e. your mitigation strategies). You are advised to consult with your supervisor about such issues as they affect the viability of your project. Also in this section, you should describe any health & safety hazards (e.g. biohazard, electrical, mechanical hazards or hazardous chemicals) and, if present, provide a risk assessment.
Finally, break down your project methodology into a number of different tasks. Briefly tell us what you will do in each task. Schedule these tasks in a Gantt Chart or other scheduling tool. Consider including some contingency if things go wrong. Remember that experiments can often take a long time to set up, or computational work can often take longer to master than expected. Be realistic and build in time for things going wrong.
Data sources for the literature review.
You should consult a number of different sources for relevant background information about your project (e.g. internet, product catalogue, journal and magazines)
Brunel University has a very large collection of journal subscription and majority of them are in electronic format. The best starting point to search Brunel e-journal subscriptions is the Library’s E-Journals gateway (http://cm7ly9cu9w.search.serialssolutions.com/).
To access Brunel University’s e-journal subscriptions, you need to go through a computer within Brunel network. If you want to gain access from your home computer, you need to have Brunel VPN (virtual private network) software installed so that your computer is “virtually” within Brunel network.
The best places to search for journal articles are “ISI Web of Knowledge” and “Scopus”, the university has subscription for both and you can access them via Library’s access portal (http://www.brunel.ac.uk/services/library/databases ) on a computer in Brunel network. Alternatively, you can use Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.co.uk/ )
Read some relevant previous Level 3 project reports (if available), related textbooks, journal papers and technical reports which closely related to your project.
Take notes from these sources and write down exact references as you find them. Keep this focussed and make sure you don’t copy sections from books and articles and download chunks from the Web, as this you will be considered as plagiarism.
The maximum length for the written section of your progress report is 11 pages (normal margins) excluding project plan (e.g. Gantt Chart) and reference list. The minimum font size is 11pt and required line spacing is 1.5.
Page 12 Gantt Chart or other scheduling tool
Present an A4 Gantt Chart (A3 size not permitted) with font size 11 pts. If you are having trouble fitting an MS project planning chart onto A4, then find another method. This chart must include your project tasks.
Page 13 References and bibliography
A full list of citations for research articles, books (or book chapters) and technical documents, must be listed on page 13 using the Harvard referencing system and consistent formatting. There is no page limit for the references but the number and quality reflect your reading around the subject. Note that a long list of webpages indicates a weak literature review! Dominance of research articles and technical documents preferred.
A bibliography is a list of articles that you have consulted, but not directly cited in the text of your project proposal.
Appendices are not permitted. If you submit an appendix we may lower your marks for not following the brief.
Do not include any theoretical, experimental or computational results in this report. The purpose of the progress report is to demonstrate that you have a clear idea about your project, you know what you are going to do and you have a project plan to complete all tasks on time.
Every module you undertake at Brunel is assessed against the learning outcomes for that module. You can find these learning outcomes in the modules descriptors that are available on Blackboard. For the BEng and MEng Level 3 projects, the learning outcomes relevant to the progress report as given below.
ME3309 (BEng) Learning outcomes to be assessed in progress report:
A wide range of concepts, principles, formulae and data in the subject area of the project.
Background to the problem using a review of related literature and technical reports.
Plan the project with identifiable objectives/milestones and timescale, and complete the
project under given time and resource constraints.
Effectively communicate the ideas and results within a written report and/or oral form.
ME3399 (MEng) Learning outcomes to be assessed in progress report:
A wide range of concepts, principles, formulae and data in the subject area of the project.
In-depth knowledge of relevant engineering and scientific literature, and identification of the state-of-the-art of the problem to be studied.
Plan the project with identifiable objectives/milestones and timescale, and complete the project under given time and resource constraints.
Effectively communicate the ideas and results within a written report and/or oral form
Note that for MEng students we are expecting the literature survey to display a more thorough and in depth knowledge of the literature, and a more developed critical analysis. This more in-depth analysis should also be seen in the quality of the aims/objectives and the project planning that follows.
Project Proposal Assessment Guidelines
We want to see that your project has been well thought out and well planned. Planning is very important and forms an essential part of delivering a good project. The literature review should be focussed, sufficiently detailed to properly explain the reasons behind why you are doing what you plan to do, as well as support the methodology that follows. The aims and objectives should be concise and properly identify the major goals of the project. Your project plan should be detailed and properly scheduled. Your schedule should demonstrate that if the project runs to plan then you will deliver on the aims and objectives of your project.
Finally, your report should be well presented and not look like you have tried to cram too much into 11 pages. We are familiar with the usual tactics of very small figures, margins too wide, no paragraphs and so on. If you find yourself going over the page limit, go back and re-assess what you have written. Focus on what is important. We will judge you on how well you do this.
Does the report meet the requirements in terms of page length, font size, legibility of figures, etc.
Range and quality of the literature review. Does the literature review make the case for doing the project? Is the literature review focussed, does it clearly relate to the subject of the project, does the literature review link to the project plan that follows? Are there a sufficient number and range of sources supplied. Does the literature review properly explain why the project is necessary? Is understanding demonstrated of the literature sources and the material being discussed; does this include a critical appraisal and analysis of the literature? If the review just repeats material from books and/or lecture notes without any discussion and analysis then this will be penalised.
Do the aims and objectives properly summarise the project and why it is necessary. Do they link to the project plan? Are they appropriate, concise and achievable?
Is the project planning detailed and thorough. Can we see exactly what it is you are going to do? Does the plan link to the aims and objectives of the project, can we clearly see how the project will be delivered through the Gantt Chart? Is the plan sensible and realistic, both in terms of the time plan and what it is you plan to do. Are there contingency plans built into the project?
This is a rough guide to what we expect to see in terms of projects of differing quality. This should not be seen as a tick box exercise.
The report clearly states the reason why the project is necessary and justifies this through the use of appropriate literature. The literature review is focussed on the problem and consults a sufficient range of different sources to provide a convincing case that the project is of interest. The literature review properly places the project in the context of work that has gone before and contains critical appraisal and analysis of this literature. The aims and objectives clearly draw on the literature survey and properly outline the intended outcomes of the project. Project methodology and planning clearly link to the literature review and then demonstrate how the project will deliver on the project aims and objectives. The project plan is detailed, appropriate and achievable in the time identified.
The reason for doing the project is explained but the justification in the literature review is limited. Limited discussion and interpretation of the literature, with some data sources not accessed and some lack of understanding evident. Some critical appraisal and analysis is evident but this is limited in depth and understanding. However, literature review provides sufficient background to follow the aims and objectives of the project. The aims and objectives are clearly identified and it is obvious what the project intends to do. The project has been planned in detail, although the link between project planning and the aims and objectives of the project is limited. A detailed schedule and time plan is provided, which looks to be achievable.
The reason for doing the project is not clearly explained. Literature review spends too much time repeating basic knowledge from books and not enough time focussing on the subject of the project. Limited literature sources consulted with only a small number of references provided. Some lack of understanding of the literature and an inability to put this in context of the project. No critical appraisal and analysis. Some aims and objectives are identified and these are acceptable in terms of the goals of the project. There is a project plan, although this lacks detail. A time plan is provided but it is difficult to link this to the aims and objectives of the project, and elements of the time plan are unrealistic.
There is no discussion on why the project is being carried out. There is a lack of understanding of the subject area and the author is unable to draw a link between the reason for doing the project and the literature review. Very few references are provided in the literature review and the review largely consists of reproducing simple background material of the type typically found in books and/or lecture notes. No aims and objectives are provided and so it is not clear what the project is trying to achieve. There is a lack of planning for the project and the project plan has not been broken down into separate tasks. A Gantt chart is either absent or supplies so little detail that it is impossible to identify a coherent time plan for the project. The author clearly does not understand what it is they are attempting to do and does not say how they plan to do it.
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