Sorry for the delay between posts! I’m home for Easter and the internet is…sketchy.
This holiday, for me, is all about writing my Final Project Report.
In Engineering, we complete a project and then write various reports on it. These start off with a Project Proposal, then there’s the Interim Report, and finally the Final Report. In total it comes to around 10,000 words. After exams there will also be a presentation. The third year Project is the Engineer’s dissertation.
Most people doing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects really, really loathe writing essays. This makes reports feel like a huge, hideous part of university that is inflicted on students by some really sadistic member of staff. They probably are. However, there are lots of ways to make your report experience better.
In trying to take a photo to show you just how much coffee, 60+ page technical documents and highlighter is involved, I’ve found some new settings on my webcam. Cool.
So here are a few ways to ensure your third year project is slightly less than the living hell it could be:
- Pick a project you enjoy. A lot of people will just choose one offered by the department but, by being just a little proactive, you can choose one yourself. Find a topic you’re interested in, find someone (perhaps in industry, perhaps in your department) who can give you a project on that, and find a supervisor who will supervise the project you want. You’ll hate yourself when you’re in the lab late knowing you inflicted a more difficult project than necessary on yourself, but at least you’re not watching computers crash for 6 hours a day.
- Start the work early. You’re meant to spend a day a week on it for two terms and that’s a lot easier than spending 20 days on it, in a row, for the last few weeks of term. Then not finishing your testing because you didn’t realise that everyone else would do this and you all need the same machines so you can’t get on the one you want all the time. People actually did this. The polishing machine and the SEM were both pretty much free from October until February.
- Invest in highlighters and a decent sized coffee mug. If you interrupt the flow of your work to get a new coffee because your mug is barely big enough for an espresso you will be kicking yourself. The highlighters just make the technical writing prettier which means you might not want to break yourself with that handily located tensile test machine (capable of over 8 tonnes of force if you carefully follow only 66 pages of instructions, including appendices and diagrams!!)
If you’ve not yet started your project then enjoy the time before it starts. If you have too, good luck- I’ll see you on the other side. In the meantime, I’m off to make more coffee.