Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

Written specifically for engineering students, this handbook is packed with practical guidance on conducting projects and writing clear and coherent reports. It takes students step-by-step through the key stages in a project, from identifying the problem and analysing its causes to defining solution requirements and developing and implementing solutions. It also provides guidance on other important aspects of project work, such as communicating with industrial partners and presenting their report. Chapters feature a wealth of examples and top tips to help students apply concepts to their own projects.
This will be an essential companion for engineering students of all disciplines who are undertaking a group or individual project or report.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
Project work within universities comes with different names, as shown in Figure 0.1. Regardless of the name, this handbook will enable you to conduct great engineering projects and write clear and coherent reports. This book is for all engineering disciplines, it is useful from the first to the last semester, and focuses on group and single-person projects. It is founded on the principle that engineers design solutions to problems. Mechanical engineers design machines, civil engineers design buildings, manufacturing engineers design production systems, electrical engineers design control systems, software engineers design programs, and chemical engineers design chemical processes and products. Great designs of products, buildings, processes, and systems depend on rigorous analyses and are followed by actual implementation. The sequence of analysis, design, and implementation constitutes the core of an engineering project across disciplines.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 1. Projects in Engineering

Abstract
Project work equips you with skills for practicing engineering in your work life after graduation. Time and again, research shows that the so-called “soft skills” are among the most important skills for engineers. Whether you thrive in your work life and provide value to your employer depends as much on your soft skills as your ability to conduct the right calculations correctly
Samuel Brüning Larsen

The Project Process

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 2. The First Phase of a Project

Abstract
The first few weeks of your project are often muddled and chaotic. Whether you conduct a one-person or a group project, no one really knows where you and your team will end up, or the steps you will take on the way. Make sure to keep calm and confident in this situation. The chaotic feeling is entirely normal at the beginning of a project. Even in your working life after graduation, projects will feel confusing in the beginning. The simple reason is that a project only becomes relevant when a task is so complex that no single person can handle it. The good news is that these feelings of confusion and chaos will fade with experience. After three or four projects, you will know much better what to expect in this phase of a project.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 3. Problem Statements in Engineering Projects

Abstract
In engineering, a project involves developing a solution to a problem. In an engineering project, the term “problem” differs from the day-to-day use of the term, such as losing your keys or being late for a meeting. In engineering projects, the term “problem” covers the following two issues
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 4. Literature, Knowledge, and Expertise in Engineering Projects

Abstract
An engineering project builds on the knowledge embedded in practice-oriented and academic literature. Practice-oriented literature is that which practicing engineers apply, while academic literature comprises university textbooks and papers published in scientific journals.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 5. Project Methodology and Planning

Abstract
The term “methodology” comes from the Greek met-hodos meaning “the way along which.” For an engineering project, the methodology means the way along which your project solves the problem in your problem statement. You can select the methodology that is best suited for your project when you have a clearly formulated problem statement. The right methodology depends entirely on the problem you want to solve. When the reader has read your methodology section, they should have a clear picture of how your project flows from problem statement through analysis and solution design to conclusions and recommendations for your industrial partner.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 6. Collecting and Analyzing Data

Abstract
The term “data” might seem rather straightforward, but this is not the case. For example: when studying theology, data comprise biblical scriptures and texts written in antiquity and medieval times; when studying psychology, data comprise client interviews; and when studying economics, data comprise national and international statistics. In other words, the term “data” has many meanings and covers a diverse set of materials.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 7. Designing the Project’s Solution

Abstract
This chapter is about the core of an engineering project: designing the solution to the problem in your problem statement. It may sound a bit strange that an engineering project is about designing a solution. The term “design” may lead you to think about designer clothing or designer furniture, and the term “solution” might make you think about what software companies develop. It is important to know that engineering projects develop solutions to problems regardless of engineering discipline. If a project designs a house, develops an algorithm, or constructs a liquid separation process, then the house drawings, the finished algorithm, and the developed liquid separation process each constitute the project’s solution. To draw the house, develop the algorithm, and construct the separation process is to design a solution.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 8. Testing and Implementing the Solution

Abstract
Engineering projects design a solution (a building, a machine, an algorithm, a chemical process, etc.). Within many disciplines, testing and implementing solutions are either specific expectations among examiners or just “nice-to-have” components of your project. The chapter first describes how to test a solution and then how to implement it.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

Collaboration, Supervision, and Stakeholders

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 9. Collaboration, Communication, and Supervision

Abstract
When you start a project-based course, you immediately face two challenges: understanding the learning objectives and content of the project, and becoming part of the right project team. The energy is usually focused on the latter. The first semester of a degree course is special in several respects
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 10. Cooperating with Industrial Partners

Abstract
It is important to ensure the best possible basis for cooperation with your industrial partner. Great cooperation is a cornerstone for developing a solution that both you and your industrial partner are happy about. The first task is to identify the right industrial partner for your project. In the later stages of your degree, you and all your classmates have a personal network to draw upon when searching for an industrial partner. Often, an industrial partner is a firm where you or a classmate have been interns.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 11. Managing Stakeholders

Abstract
This chapter deals with managing your stakeholders and their interests in your project. It describes how to conduct a stakeholder analysis that provides you with an overview of stakeholders, their power, their relations to other stakeholders, and their interests in your project.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

The Project Report

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 12. The Project Report: Structure and Content

Abstract
The content of a project report depends on the learning goals and traditions within your engineering discipline. During your early semesters, projects often have predetermined problems, objectives, and methods. These reports follow specified, fixed rules and perhaps forms or templates that you apply directly. The free, independent projects, where you as the project team make decisions about problem and methods, are the focus of this book. This chapter therefore concerns the structure and content of project reports for these projects.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 13. Communicating Clearly and Professionally

Abstract
The content of a written engineering report includes regular text as well as tables, diagrams, figures and other types of graphical communication. Communicating effectively in reports requires that both language and all graphical communication are clear to the target audience. Chapter 5 describes how engineering education builds on a positivistic, “natural science” worldview. This worldview is embedded in readers minds and influences their perception of what professional and clear communication is. The worldview considers professional and clear communication as neutral, impersonal, concrete, specific, correct, and concise. These characteristics of communication are the foundation for the advice in this chapter.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

The Project Exam

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 14. Examination of Engineering Projects

Abstract
Although evaluations and grading in project-based courses differ among universities and courses, a common method for evaluating the overall performance of a student project is evaluating the sum total of (a) the written report, (b) an oral group presentation of the report, and (c) students individual performance in an examinerled, Q&A-style discussion. Because examiners have already evaluated the written report prior to the day of exam, the examination consists of the group presentation and the individual examination.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

CHAPTER 15. Getting Top Marks from External Examiners

Abstract
This chapter deals with the success criteria of external examiners. The chapter describes what external examiners look for in both the written report and the oral project presentation at the exam. In addition, the chapter describes elements that cause confusion for external examiners. The chapter draws on conversations with external examiners for engineering projects. These were industry specialists and academics. Their comments are included in quotation marks throughout this chapter.
Samuel Brüning Larsen

Technical Research: the Master of Science (M.Sc.) Project

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 16. The Special Requirements of M.Sc. Projects in Engineering

Abstract
Universities and engineering fields differ in their traditions. One of these differences is whether they expect their students to design a solution for a specific problem or conduct an academic research project that contributes to the general base of knowledge (and can perhaps be published as a paper in an academic journal or conference proceedings).
Samuel Brüning Larsen
Additional information