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About Part 4 Projects (Final Year Research Projects)

The Part 4 Projects (P4P) provide an opportunity for students to work largely on their own initiative but under constant supervision, on a topic of interest for Mechanical or Mechatronics Engineers. Work takes place over a complete academic year, requiring students to enrol in both MECHENG 700A and 700B courses. Students will be working in groups of two under the direction and continuing guidance of a project supervisor. The research project requires independent thought and action. We hope that students will feel a personal sense of achievement. The project can also be seen within a professional context where our students, as engineers, have to investigate a particular problem in some depth and produce both an analysis and a solution. The outcome of this project is a research portfolio that includes a formal research report, a conference presentation, a poster display, and a research compendium. Some projects focus primarily on laboratory work and can involve substantial liaison with local industry, while others may be more analytical or computational. It must be noted that individual grades are awarded for this research project and that assessment is performed at the end of the academic year in a holistic manner.

MECHENG 700 A/B meets all the requirements of an NQF Level 9 course. The 2×15-point course (total of 30 points), spanning Semester 1 and 2, is a required course for the BE(Hons) Mechanical and BE(Hons) Mechatronics programmes. Work on the project commences in March and continues to October, with the expectation that students will spend on average about 10 hours per week on their project throughout this period. It is important that all projects in the Department start at the same time so that no student group gains an advantage. It is therefore preferable to avoid projects that develop from work experience, or that have a lead-in requirement. It is expected that students will need to draw upon a good level of theoretical knowledge and the skills they have acquired so far in the degree. In some areas they will need to extend their knowledge and expertise. The research will start with the preparation of the research objectives and scope of the project and a literature review to identify what has been done previously and look at alternative approaches to the problem. This will lead into the detailed work on a solution, which may require: i) the design of equipment to carry out specific tasks, ii) to investigate phenomena or the behaviour of complex systems, iii) computer analysis, modelling,  and/or simulation of the engineering systems, iv) to involve elements of all three aforementioned activities. It is important that there is a research component to the project so that students can develop their research skills.