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Introduction to Academic Research
MECH 493
Instructor: Boris Stoeber
Office: KAIS 3112
Office Hours: n/a
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
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 2018

Projects for 2017

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 7th 2018 (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)


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 10% of their time, or 4-5 h/wk, to their thesis project as this is a 3-credit course taken over two terms.

Deliverable General Deadlines 2018/2019 Provided to: Evaluated by: Grading Weight
Short (Draft) Proposal (~1 page) 4th week of term 1 Sep. 28, 2018 Supervisor Supervisor 0%
Research Proposal (5 - 10 pages) 10th week of term 1 Nov. 9, 2018 Coordinator & Supervisor Supervisor 25%
Presentation of Research Progress (~15 min) 3rd week of term 2 Jan. 14-18, 2019 Supervisor Supervisor 0%
Thesis (~20 pages) start of April exam period April 8, 2019 † Coordinator & Supervisor Supervisor 50%
Research Project Presentation (15 min & 15 min Q&A) During exam period by April 26, 2019 present Supervisors ‡ present Supervisors 20%
Web Summary § (100-200 words + picture) with thesis April 8, 2019 Coordinator & Supervisor Supervisor 5%

† Earlier submission is encouraged.

‡ One presentation session will include approximately 4 students and their supervisors.

§ 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 initial draft proposal (due in the second or third week of the term) 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) in about 20 pages. The marking rubric is provided for supervisors as a guideline only:

  1. Introduction (10%)
  2. Literature Review (20%)
  3. Methodology (15%)
  4. Results (15%)
  5. Discussion (20%)
  6. Conclusions and Future Work (20%)

The Future Work section can be up to 2 pages in length, and it should be written as a research proposal for a MASc project.

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.