Six hundred over individual projects to choose from and we had to cherry-pick six and rank them to our preference. Fast forward a year, I’m two weeks away from submitting an official 10,000-word report on my project. Mind you, writing a convincing scientific report with that many words is no joke.
I was one of the few to have two supervisors. They were from very different scientific backgrounds; chemistry and acoustics. You might crack your head, trying to figure out how these two subjects overlap to form a research project. They do, in a process called ultrasonic spray pyrolysis. Look it up, if you’ve never heard of that term before. It was pretty fascinating to me, after I got over the part where I had to read about chemical reactions to fully understand what I had to do to meet the project’s aims and objectives. It took me awhile to fully appreciate it, but carrying out a project myself gave me an insight to the different scientific fields that could overlap in an engineering endeavour. Just remember you’re engineering something, so many subfields will most definitely come into play.
Each project is usually proposed by a university lecturer, and naturally he or she would supervise the student whom gets assigned to it to ensure the student gets sufficient academic help throughout. I met my supervisors as early as the second week of term. The project title you first came across will not even come close to explaining what you’re going to do, so it’s good to meet your supervisor early and get to know what he or she is expecting of you. Almost all the time, you will not know much about your project’s core subject, so it’s good to allow a lot of time for reading and learning the principles that you’ll need to know and understand, to run your project.
The most important thing to do is to ask questions, as many as you can, to your supervisors. They know what they’re getting you involved in, so if in any doubt, your supervisors will definitely be the one to go to. Asking questions is the best way to show your supervisors that you have genuine interest in the project you’re undertaking.
Remember, you supervisor trusting your ability to handle the project, is important because he or she will ultimately be the one to assess your final report.
One common thing every current or past third year student would moan about, is that their projects never went the way they had initially planned. It just never does. You are bound to bump into problems as you progress. Some hitches might end up causing major setbacks to a project especially if you’ve been assigned a project that requires manufacturing a part or setting up apparatus to carry out an experimental procedure. A tiny problem I initially brushed off as something trivial ended up delaying my project’s progress by up to two months, causing me precious time that I could have invested in other portions of my project work. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, that’s just luck I guess, but always have this in mind when you plan your project’s details.
In a nutshell, your third year individual project is entirely YOUR project. You might get help from someone other than your supervisor at times, say from a postgraduate student or a workshop technician. Even then, it’s ultimately your project and they will only help you the way you want them to.
Time management is the key quality you ought to have. It’s very easy to go off course and lose that momentum you have in your project with exams and assignments occasionally coming in. That’s when your ability to manage time comes into play. Of course, it’s easier said than done.