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Introduction to Academic Research
MECH 493
Instructor: Steve Rogak
Office: CEME 2064
Office Hours: n/a
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Calendar Description

MECH 410C/410F (3/3) Undergraduate Research I/II.

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.

In practice, Mech 493 and 410C/F are essentially identical in their goals, with the difference that 493 is a two-term, three-credit course, and Mech 410C/F is a pair of one-term, three-credit courses. Enrollment in the second course, Mech 410F, is contingent on approval of the project sponsor and course coordinator after the successful completion of Mech 410C; ordinarily, we expect that most students enrolling in 410C will continue in 410F.

It is expected that projects proposed for the final year research course will be suitable for both the 3-credit course Mech 493 and the 6-credit Mech 410 C/F, unless specifically indicated in the project description.

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 2024

Projects for 2023

Projects for 2022

Projects for 2021

Projects for 2020

Projects for 2019

Projects for 2018

  • Professor Hongshen Ma - Cell Sorting with Generic DCNNs - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Gwynn Elfring - Flexibility enhanced propulsion at low Reynolds number - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Mattia Bacca - Visco-Elasto-Plasticity of adhesive bonds in bioinspired fibrillar adhesives - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Mattia Bacca - On cutting and penetration mechanics of soft biomaterials - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Dana Grecov - Computational Fluid Dynamics Analysis of Intracranial Sidewall Aneurysms - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Boris Stoeber - Effect of Surfactant on Sorting of Bidispersed Colloidal Particles from Evaporation of a Sessile Droplet - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Boris Stoeber - Influence of Viscosity on Intradermal Injection Using Hollow Microneedle - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Mauricio Ponga - Fatigue of 3D Printed Layered Materials - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Mauricio Ponga - Data-driven modelling of materials and structures - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Mu Chiao - Fastening Torque/ Motor Current Analysis for a Motor Powered Screw Driver Mechanism - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Lyndia Wu - Investigating the Mechanism of Concussions - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Lyndia Wu - Investigating Neurophysiological Response to Voluntary Rapid Head Motion - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Patrick Kirchen - Characterizing Cyclic Variability in Combustion: Tracking the Centroid and Area of an Ignition Kernel - Completed Project Summary
  • Professor Machiel van der Loos - Train to Train: A Viability Study of a Hand-Over-Hand Training Approach for Robot Kinesthetic Teaching - Completed Project Summary

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 (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:

For Mech 493, 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. For Mech 410C/F, the expectation is doubled, as this sequence is three credits each term.

Deliverable Deadlines Evaluated by: Grading Weight
General 2020W 493 410C 410F
Short (Draft) Proposal (~1 page) Term 1, Week 4 Sep. 24, 2021 Supervisor 0% 0%
Research Proposal (5 - 10 pages) Term 1, Week 9 Nov. 5, 2021 Supervisor 25% 50%
Presentation of Research Progress + Research Progress to Date (~15 min) During December exams By Dec 22, 2021 Supervisors present 10% 50%
Thesis (~20 pages) Start of April exam period April 12, 2022 † Supervisor 40% 70%
Research Project Presentation (15 min & 15 min Q&A) During April exams By April 27, 2022 Supervisors present 20% 25%
Web Summary § (100-200 words + picture) With thesis April 12, 2022 Supervisor 5% 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.