MANE-6980 Engineering Project
Suggestions for Selecting a Suitable Project Topic
The Engineering Project is the final requirement for eligibility for the Master's degree. The Project represents the culmination of your Graduate experience and is a demonstration of your ability to understand and apply graduate-level, engineering concepts, theories and tools. The Project serves to show that you have acquired advanced skills in the discipline and that you are proficient in their use.
The work you do in your project is meant to have a scholarly, archival character. The final deliverable consists of a written report using the official RPI Thesis Template. Paper copies as well as electronic copies of the report must be produced, approved and submitted together with any additional supporting material for ultimate addition to the RPI Cole Library collection. Although you may hold copyright on your final report, the document becomes available to the public at large through the RPI Library service.
Work on your Project can be done either in a "classroom format", where you attend weekly, 3-hour long meetings in a classroom to receive advise and coaching by a member of the Faculty, or it can be done as an "independent study". However, in both cases, it is required that a Project Advisor be officially appointed BEFORE you are allowed to register.
Once you are ready to start work on your Project, selecting a suitable topic is your first and primary responsibility. A systematic and rational approach to selecting a topic ensures that the right topic is selected and significantly increases the likelihood of successful, timely completion of the requirement. Following are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding Project topic selection.
Who is responsible for selecting a suitable topic for my Project?
Selection of a topic is your responsibility. However, RPI has many resources to help ensure you select the right topic.
How do I choose a topic for my Project?
You must select a topic for your project based on your own personal and professional interests. Since you will devote much time and effort to the completion of your Project, it is crucial you work on something that interests you greatly. Your Faculty Advisor will be happy to provide some guidance to help you select the right topic.
Where can I get ideas for suitable topics?
Good, suitable Project topics can originate from multiple sources. For instance, if a certain course you took while enrolled in your program at RPI was particularly stimulating to you, you may consider doing your project on a topic related to that course. You should thus contact your instructor directly, he/she would be glad to help you determine a suitable topic and may even agree to become your Project Advisor. While you do this, you must also contact your Faculty Advisor as he/she will provide guidance about working on your Project with any of RPI's Instructors.
Project topics inspired by a work-related problem often result in interesting, suitable Projects. However, work-related problems are also often complex and/or ill-defined, or maybe they are far too practice-oriented and fail to satisfy the scholarship requirement. Moreover, there may also be a risk of infringing into Intellectual Property issues. If you are considering a work-related problem as a topic for a project, it is best to approach your Faculty Advisor early on and have some discussion. You may well have to right-size and right-scope your topic in order to make it feasible.
Some students select topics for their Project from extracurricular activities or hobbies they have a passion for. Again, your Faculty Advisor would be glad to help you determine whether a candidate topic would be suitable for a Project, please contact him/her early to discuss.
Successfully completed prior Engineering Projects can also serve to generate good ideas for new topics. You can consult the archival collection of Engineering Project Reports at the Cole Library for a comprehensive list or access Prof. Gutierrez-Miravete course page and click in the Student Portfolio links of his Engineering Project courses.
If you are unsure about a topic, it is a good idea to browse through the multiple volumes of a Mechanical Engineer's Handbook (such as the 3rd edition of the one by Kutz - available in full text to RPI students through the Knovel Link at the Cole Library Webpage). Looking through the various chapters of the handbook may help you identify a specific subdiscipline within Mechanical Engineering (such as Solid Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Manufacturing, etc) where you would like to do your Project.
The RPI Cole Library makes available to students an extensive electronic informational database in your discipline. The database contains articles from scientific and technical journals as well as reports and reference books and textbooks. The electronic collection is readily available to RPI students from anywhere through an Internet connection by simply using their RPI login ID and password. This is a valuable benefit exclusively available to RPI students, you should take full advantage of this resource.
note that expert Librarians at the Cole Library will be happy
to help you find a suitable topic for your Project and/or
to assist you in identifying and finding pertinent information.
Please feel free to pay them a visit or contact them
directly. Once you have some ideas, please proceed to
contact your Faculty Advisor to narrow down
your choices and define a suitable topic.