Course:MECH493

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Introduction to Academic Research
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MECH 493
Section:
Instructor: Boris Stoeber
Email: stoeber@mech.ubc.ca
Office: KAIS 3112
Office Hours: n/a
Class Schedule:
Classroom:
Important Course Pages
Syllabus
Lecture Notes
Assignments
Course Discussion


Calendar Description

MECH 493 (3) Introduction to Academic Research.

Research project directed by a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering. This course is not eligible for Credit/D/Fail grading. [0-5-1] Prerequisite: Fourth-year standing and at least 80% average in third-year courses and permission of instructor.

Learning Objectives

  1. To gain experience of the practice of academic research
  2. To understand the difference in thinking style required when doing research compared to when doing coursework studies. This thinking involves the creation of new knowledge rather than the acquisition of existing knowledge.
  3. To gain a deeper knowledge of a specialized area of interest.
  4. To gain personal insights into the practice of research to provide data for student decisions regarding future study/career choices.

Projects for 2016

Projects for 2015

Projects for 2014

Projects for 2013

Projects for 2012

How to Register

Prospective students and proposed supervisors are requested to download and fill out the following form and submit it, along with a (unofficial) SISC printout of the student's third year grades, to the MECH office by September 8th (or as soon as possible thereafter). Students will not normally be accepted after the drop/add date.

Admission Request Form (MSWord)

Admission Request Form (PDF)

Prerequisites

80% average in third year

Research Project

A suitable research project will require the student to use and exercise mature thinking and research skills. The student should use their judgement, review the relevant literature, plan and conduct experimental work, reflect and analyze results, formulate conclusion and produce a concise written report. Overall the project should provide an intellectually challenging experience, that is, not be routine or mundane.

Course Timeline, Deliverables and Grading:

Students are expected to devote approximately 20% of their time, or 8-10 h/wk, to their thesis project (one term); if the project is performed over two terms, the weekly commitment may be 4-5 h/wk.

Deliverable Deadlines for single term Deadlines for two terms Submit to: Grading Weight
Proposal Abstract † (~1 paragraph) Prior to term or first week Prior to term or first week Coordinator 0%
Short (Draft) Proposal (~1 page) Second week of term Third week of term Coordinator & Supervisor 0%
Research Proposal (~10 pages) 5th week of term 8th week of term Supervisor 25%
Presentation of a Research Paper (~15 min) 10th week of term 10th week of term Coordinator 0%
Thesis (~20 pages) Start of Dec exam period Start of April exam period Coordinator & Supervisor 60%
Research Project Presentation (~20 min) One week after thesis submission One week after thesis submission Coordinator & Supervisor
Logbook ‡ with thesis with thesis Supervisor 10%
Web Summary § (100-200 words + picture) with thesis with thesis Coordinator 5%
  • † Abstract: student identifies potential research supervisor; student submits short abstract (~1-2 paragraphs) outlining scope of project by email to course coordinator; proposed supervisor confirms to course coordinator (email okay) willingness to supervise.
  • ‡ Note: students are expected to meet with their supervisor weekly and to document these meetings in their logbook. The use of a logbook is part of expected professional engineering practice and also a best practise for research. Students who do not submit their logbook for grading will not be given credit for this course.
  • § Please use this template to submit your web summary.

Research Proposal (developed with project supervisor)

The students will prepare a research proposal with the guidance of their supervisors. The draft proposal is intended to help "kickstart" this process and should include your understanding of the research you are undertaking (what are you going to do?), and include pointers to the relevant background literature, the research motivation and questions/hypothesis, methods, and expected deliverables.

Before undertaking any writing students are advised to read Professor Ashby's (author of many papers and textbooks on materials) very readable, and illustrated, guide to writing a research paper.

The final proposal should be no more than 10 pages in length. It should have the following headings (or similar):

  • Title (or Cover) Page – does not count toward the total page count.
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction (including Statement of Problem, Purpose of Research, and Significance of Research)
  • Background (including Literature Survey)
  • Description of Proposed Research (including Method or Approach)
  • List of References
  • Budget and resources required

Research Thesis

The final research thesis should have the following sections (or similar). The marking rubric is provided for supervisors as a guideline only:

  1. Introduction (10%)
  2. Literature Review (20%)
  3. Methodology (20%)
  4. Results (20%)
  5. Discussion (20%)
  6. Conclusions (and Recommendations if required) (10%)

Instructions for Professors Wishing to Advertise Project Ideas

Please download and fill in the following template and email to the course coordinator:

including a brief (100-200 word) abstract of the project prior to the start of term (ideally by August 26th).

The course coordinator will collect the project descriptions, post them and advertise to students.