Junior Year Spring Term (.5 credits)

Major Events and Deliverables Deadline
Initial project selection and background paper Week 7
Project design requirements (initial paper) Week 10


Background Research Paper

Often the first step in an engineering task is to research the topic of the project. General questions that must be answered are:

  • What is the history of this topic - what has been done in the past?
  • What are the most important issues for this topic in terms of the goals of the project and the effects on society? (Here is a SUGGESTED list of issues - write about those that are relevant to your project or other issues that you determine are important: users, cost, safety, user-friendliness, performance, compatibility with other things, functionality, acceptance, convenience, capacity, misuses, legal issues, standards or codes, availability, materials, productivity enhancement, entertainment, technology, design methods....)

Here is a suggested list of steps for the background research paper.

Project Design Requirements (Initial Paper)

The purpose of this paper is to fully define the design requirements of your project. The design requirements paper should:

  • identify the need for the project and define the goal of the project
  • review any relevant existing solutions or related work (more focused and detailed than background paper review)
  • define any constraints that exist for your project
  • define the behavior of your project
  • define performance criteria for your project
  • prioritize and give weights to performance criteria of the project

You can use several sources of information to develop the requirements. You may ask your project supervisor or "customer" for guidance. Surveys, literature searches, web searches, phone calls to companies and other institutions may be required.

Here is a more detailed look at the format of the project design requirements.