Unit Co-ordinator: A/Prof Yonghui Li.
The following sections on Syllabus, Learning Outcomes, Choice of Topic and Supervisor, and Workload Requirements have been taken from , with modifications.
The 4th year Engineering Project aims to provide students with the opportunity to carry out a defined piece of independent research or design work in a setting and in a manner that fosters the development of engineering skills in research or design. These skills include the capacity to define a research or design question, showing how it relates to existing knowledge, identifying the tools needed to investigate the question, carrying out the research or design in a systematic way, analysing the results obtained and presenting the outcomes in a report that is clear, coherent and logically structured.
Students are asked to write a treatise based on a research or major design project, which is very-often related to some aspect of a staff member’s research interests. Some projects will be experimental in nature, others may involve computer-based simulation, feasibility studies or the design, construction and testing of equipment. In the normal course of events some or all of the theoretical, developmental and experimental aspects of research or design work are expected in a project. These aspects may be either directed by the supervisor or be of an original nature, but in either case the student is responsible for the execution of the practical work and the general layout and content of the treatise itself.
In undertaking the project, students will learn how to examine published and experimental data, set objectives, organize a program of work and analyse results. They will also be expected to evaluate these results in relation to existing knowledge. The project will be judged on the extent and quality of the student’s original work and particularly on how critical, perceptive and constructive he or she has been in assessing his/her work and that of others. Students will also be required to present the results of their findings to their peers and supervisors as part of a seminar program.
It is not expected that a project at this level will represent a significant contribution to new knowledge; nor is it expected that the project will resolve great intellectual problems. The time frame available for the project is simply too short to permit students to tackle complex or difficult problems. Indeed, a key aim of the project is to specify a research or design topic that arouses sufficient intellectual curiosity, and presents an appropriate range and diversity of technical and conceptual challenges, while remaining manageable and allowing achievable outcomes within the time and resources available. It is important that the topic be of sufficient scope and complexity to allow a student to learn their craft and demonstrate their research or design skills. Equally imperative is that the task not be so demanding as to elude completion.
The learning outcomes for this course are:
- an ability to plan and undertake a research or major design project,
- a proposal for the intended work including setting objectives, organization of a program of work and devising an experimental or developmental program,
- an ability to design and conduct experiments/design work and to analyse and interpret data from those experiments or design, and
- the preparation and submission of a treatise at the end of the B-unit semester detailing the context of the problem, relevant background research and outcomes of the investigation.
If starting Unit A, the topic and supervisor should have been registered with the Project Co-ordinator at the end of the previous semester. In any case, it must be finalized with the Project Co-ordinator by the first week of lectures of the semester in which you are enrolled in the A Unit.
There is NO topic allocation process. Students should show some initiative in coming up with a project and finding a supervisor(s) for this. NOTE that you are only initially required to register a broad topic area and a supervisor, e.g., 'DSP Algorithms to extract TAB notation from guitar music, with Professor R. Clapton', and you can always change it. The task of background review, formulation of research questions and detailed research plan are what you do in the first semester unit A.
You must have an EIE academic supervisor, even if you are doing a project with an external supervisor. This is, after all, an SUEIE unit. How many supervisors you have and their respective roles will depend on the needs of yourself and your project, but at least one of these must be an EIE academic supervisor (perhaps in an administrative role).
Note also that the Department does NOT demand payment from an external supervisor, neither does it pay external supervisors.
You must consult regularly (at least once a fortnight and preferably once a week) with your supervisor(s) for the duration of the project. If the supervisor(s) is to be absent for more than about two weeks during semester, an associate supervisor should be appointed during the absence. While there can be no rigid template for student/supervisor interaction, there are several critical roles that a supervisor is generally expected to perform. These include:
- providing advice about the limits or boundaries of the project,
- guiding students to appropriate reading---and discussing this material,
- helping to develop a broad timetable for completion of the project,
- ensuring that students understand the relevant theories, and have the technical skills needed to answer the questions posed in the research,
- fostering writing skills by way of constructive commentary,
- being available to meet regularly and frequently with the student for discussion,
- providing prompt feedback on drafts and papers submitted for comment,
- setting goals and monitoring student progress, and
- encouraging student participation in the wider intellectual life of the Program, School and The University.
Equally important is that students recognise what supervisors are NOT there to do. This includes:
- that the supervisor should not provide students with detailed topics, research questions, and detailed research plans: these tasks are integral to the process of learning to conduct research/design and are the job of the student---with the supervisor acting as guide, and
- that the supervisor should not write, nor rewrite, the treatise. Clear, concise written expression is a fundamental objective of engineering training which needs to be learned.
It is expected that students will spend at least one to two full days per week throughout the course of the year undertaking background research work, organizing their program of work, preparing and analysing results and writing the treatise document itself.
You may want to change your topic after you have started. This is straightforward if you remain with the same supervisor; you simply need to get agreement from your supervisor. It is also wise to tell the Project Co-ordinator of your new project title.
To change supervisors, you need to complete a Change of Topic form. This requires the signed approvals of your old supervisor(s) and your new supervisor(s), the title of your new project and a very good explanation as to why you want to change. Your change of supervisor is NOT valid until confirmed by the Project Co-ordinator.
Note that, as time goes on, it becomes increasingly harder to change topics. Also, note that your old supervisor telling you that you were going to fail is NOT a good-enough reason to change.
The Project is all about interacting with your supervisor(s); they provide the broad direction and you do the leg work and hopefully some innovation. The project is NOT something that you have to do all by yourself. Talk to your supervisor(s)! The surest way to fail is to not bother to see your supervisor(s) until the week before hand-in. How much interaction you do have with your supervisor(s) depends on what problems you are having and what phase of the project you are in. It could vary from once a week to several times a day.
You should have the first meeting with your supervisor(s) no later than the first week of semester. Most students will start working on their project much earlier than that.
It is your responsibility to inform your supervisor(s) of any problems that you are having with your project, equipment, etc.
It is your responsibility to see your supervisor(s) a minimum of once a week initially and thereafter at a rate agreed to by the supervisor(s).
If you are having difficulties contacting your supervisor, tell the Project Co-ordinator Dr Xiaoke Yi.
Notifications about this Unit of Study are via these web pages and by email. You are required to have read these web pages. Check the Project web page regularly.
Email about various aspects of the Project will be sent, from time to time, to your MyUni account. If you are in the habit of using another account, simply re-direct your mail from your MyUni account to your usual account. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that this re-direction is valid. Be advised that problems with email, such as invalid re-direction aliases and insufficient memory with some commercial accounts, will stop you receiving notifications about the Project. If you haven't had email about the Project recently, find out why.
Although the A unit of the Project is a first- or second-semester unit, most students start before then. Passing your current-semester units is a priority, but that shouldn't stop you from reading some background and getting on top of your project by the start of the semester. Many students have by then done their background review. Once you have chosen a topic, discuss this with your supervisor.
Projects involving human or animal subjects generally require approval from The University of Sydney's Ethics Committee. This includes usability studies, human/computer interface studies and statistical surveys. As a rule, undergraduate pre-honours or course-work projects may be approved by the Head of School but, if there is any doubt, reference should be made to the Senior Ethics Officer at the web site above. Consult your Supervisor(s). Note that your supervisor CANNOT give approval, NOR can they set aside the need for ethics approval, if humans or animals are involved. For biohazards, refer to the above web site also.
For other hazardous activites, e.g., radiation, consult your Supervisor(s).
Note also that a handful of your friends does NOT constitute a statistically-significant sample size for a survey.
Under Occupational Health and Safety Legislation you have rights and responsibilities, both at the university and, if applicable, at the premises of external supervisors. Although the risks involved in office-bound work might be considered minimal, the introduction of electricity in experiments bring with it additional risks. Depending on the nature of your project, there might be additional risks in connection with radiation, genetically modified organisms, animal research, dangerous goods, hazardous substances, carcinogens, hazardous processes and the design, installation and use of plant and equipment. See the university's web page on OH&S for more details.
Discuss the risks involved in your project with your supervisor(s).
Each member of staff and each student is responsible for ensuring that his or her own work environment is conducive to good occupational health and safety by:
- complying with occupational health and safety instructions
- taking action to avoid, eliminate or minimise hazards
- reporting hazards to the relevant supervisor, manager or service unit
- making proper use of safety devices and personal protective equipment
- not willfully placing at risk the health, safety or well-being of others at the workplace
- seeking information or advice where necessary, particularly before carrying out new or unfamiliar work
- wearing appropriate clothing and protective equipment for the work being done, including protective clothing and footwear whilst on duty, where this is required
- consuming or storing food and drink only in those areas designated for this purpose by the Head of the Department
- being familiar with emergency and evacuation procedures and the location of and, if appropriately trained, the use of emergency equipment
- co-operating with directions from emergency wardens.
Copyright of your treatise is vested with you. The rights to the intellectual property contained within are also vested with you, the student, except for that intellectual property contributed by your supervisor(s) and/or others. If you are concerned about this, define the various intellectual contributions in writing with your supervisor(s) before you start. Some third-party projects might have special requirements about intellectual property, but this will be stated at the outset. Where you are doing a project with your employer, you are free to give away your rights as you see fit. See The University of Sydney (Intellectual Property) Rule 2002 (as amended)  for more detail.
Many topics require work with a group of students. This is to be encouraged, however, some points must be noted.
The treatise must be written by yourself and must clearly state what part of the project you did and what your partner(s) did. It is fine to have sections of your treatise jointly- or wholely-written by other members of your group. It must, however, be made obvious which sections are not your own. Such sections would only be included in your treatise for clarity of explanation and not for credit.
In the Statement of Achievements you should list your team members and state what role each played in the project.
Also, be aware of project dependencies, e.g., where one person does the hardware and another the software of a project. This can create difficulties when it comes to testing. If for whatever reason your partner does not finish, your project needs to be sufficiently self-contained that this does not affect you.
Any use of the words or ideas of another, unless properly cited, constitutes plagiarism and academic misconduct. Also, cited work does not count as an achievement or contribution. It is wrong to use 'cut & paste' unless you also give an obvious reference. This applies equally well to diagrams and figures, as well as text. If in doubt, cite it. Refer to The University web site on academic honesty  for more information.
Plagiarism is something that is particularly checked for in group work. All of the treatise must be your own work, except where appropriately cited. Many people who fail the Project do so because of an adverse plagiarism finding.
You are required to have several forms signed by your supervisor(s). In particular, to hand in your treatise, the Project Clearance form must be signed by your supervisor(s).
Don't expect your supervisor(s) to be waiting for you at the time you want to get your forms signed and hand in your treatise. Supervisors have a range of demands on their time, such as teaching other classes, meetings, etc. It is YOUR responsibility to have contacted your supervisor(s) ahead of time and arranged a time to have these signed.
The first three pages of your treatise are prescribed to be:
- the prescribed Title Page,
- the prescribed Compliance sheet, and
- your Statement of Achievements.
Do not adulterate the Title Page. Just fill in the information requested. Note that the supervisor is your School supervisor. This Title page is available on the Forms web page.
As the intellectual property is vested with you and as your treatise is NOT an official publication of The University and as The University does NOT endorse your treatise, you must NOT use the official crest of The University of Sydney.
As required by School policy, students need to submit a signed Statement of Compliance with all work submitted to the School for assessment. This page must be the second page of your treatise. This page is available on the Forms web page. For the nature of the work, you should fill in `Treatise for Engineering Project' or `Treatise for Honours Thesis'.
The third page in your treatise is required to detail the specific achievements and contributions that you have made during the project. This should be a clear, precise and concise statement which will allow any reader to immediately judge the level and significance of your work in isolation from any background literature survey and in isolation from any other members of your project group. This page must be signed by you (it is NOT necessary that your supervisor sign it). It should be no more than one page. For more information, see the Treatise Guidelines and an example from AAME .
Note that, in your one-page Statement of Achievements, your having learnt something is NOT considered an achievement. This learning needs to be applied in order to achieve a significant achievement. In the case of groupwork, it should also say what you yourself achieved and what the group as a whole achieved.
You are directed to read the Treatise Guidelines, on these web pages, for details on this.
The word-processing system that you use is not mandated, merely that you use one. If you do not yet know Latex , it's probably too late to learn. I'm sorry, but you'll probably have to use Microsoft Word™. Remember, it is content rather than style that is looked for.
The use of colour printers is often wrongly thought to be called for by some students in illustrating some graphical concepts. In most cases this is not necessary and serves merely to give the impression that the treatise is a 'triumph of style over substance' (P.J. Keating). Assume the reader is colour-blind! Indeed, some readers will immediately suspect the use of colour is an attempt to distract attention from deficiencies. The University does NOT recompense expenditure on printing. Don't leave the decisions of whether to print in colour, or of how many pages of colour, up to the Copy Centre: you can end up with a bill of over a hundred dollars!
Let me say that again: printing in colour is RARELY (read never) necessary and merely serves to show that you were more concerned with appearance rather than content! This especially applies to having colour section headings.
If a disk and/or CD are to be included in your treatise, these must be securely enclosed in a pouch attached to the inside back cover. All copies of your treatise must include these.
If you choose to bind your treatise in two or more parts, because of size, then you must hand in the same number of each part. All copies must be identical.
When you submit your treatise, you must also submit a form signed by your supervisor(s) or appointed nominee to certify that you have returned borrowed materials, cleaned-up equipment and lab space, etc. In the case where you have several supervisors, assume that you need signatures from each unless told otherwise. This Project Clearance form is available on the Forms web page. You MUST hand this form in even if you didn't borrow anything!
The penalty scheme is intended to balance student fairness, administrative ease and a trade-off between extra time available and penalty incurred.
A penalty of zero (0) marks per day will be ruthlessly applied to the first two calendar days after treatise hand-in, thereafter a penalty equivalent to two (2) marks per calendar day will be applied to treatises that are submitted late. This means that the penalty for late submission on a Monday is 6 points more than the previous Friday. This penalty is subtracted from your total Project mark, not just from your Treatise mark.
Note that a treatise handed in during the first two days after the date, for which there is no penalty, is still considered late and that this may be taken into account in your management mark.
Extensions, whereby lateness does not incur a loss of marks, will not be granted except in truly exceptional circumstances, such as a recent death in the immediate family, or serious illness or misadventure.
Applications for extension are by way of the usual Special Consideration form, with documentation. Note that your supervisor CANNOT grant you an extension.
You know now that problems such as the printer being overloaded or not working, or your dog eating your hard disk, are not unexpected. You should account for such eventualities in your schedule. They are unlikely to be acceptable reasons for an extension. Indeed, these have already been allowed for in the penalty scheme.
Project Presentations will be scheduled in the first couple of days of the examination period. These are advertised on the Project web page. It is your responsibility to be aware of the date and time that your Presentation has been scheduled. If you have a conflict with your scheduled time, you can negotiate a change with the Project Co-ordinator. This must be done no later than 2 weeks before your scheduled time.
If you miss your scheduled Presentation you will receive zero marks for this component of the unit assessment, unless your documented Special Consideration form is accepted. If accepted, a re-scheduled time will be negotiated between yourself and the appropriate staff members.
It is possible to review the component marks of your Project, including presentation and management components after the results are out from the EIE School Office.
X. Yi, JG Rathmell, IB Collings