Toby Cumberbatch

Professor of Electrical Engineering

ECE196 Electrical Engineering Projects IV

1.     The Big Problem? – February 5th

What is your biggest challenge? What hurdle do you need to overcome to achieve your stated goal? Each group will have 2 – 3 minutes to present your biggest problem to the remainder of the class.


2.     Your Objective? – February 12th

Each group will submit a statement of length 100 words describing what they intend to achieve by the end of the semester. This should be framed within the context of your ultimate goal, e.g. “An Autonomous Robot able to Load and Unload a Dishwasher” and how you intend to realize it.

3.     Comprehensive Project Schedule – February 19th

Each group will submit a comprehensive schedule for the completion of their project. The schedule will be constructed on a time unit of one week. For each time period, the schedule must state clearly the overall goal for that week, the specific tasks to be accomplished during that time period, the team member responsible for the task and an indication of the total time required. The schedule must include documentation, presentations and be sufficiently flexible to allow for unplanned events – for example, problems with your hardware. I will use this schedule each time I meet the project leaders. I will nominate one group member to be responsible for the preparation of this important document. [The format for this submission is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet as an email attachment.]

4.     Engineering Design Specification – February 26th

A two-page document, set in 12 point type with single line spacing, containing the engineering specifications for your prototype device plus one extra page of drawings if required.

Submissions that do not adhere to the correct format will be rejected and the group will lose one letter grade. I will nominate one group member to be responsible for the preparation of this document.

For an example – go to Clearly, you will need to adapt the content and style to your particular project. Equally, you are free to select a “template” of your choice.

5.     Critique – February 26th

A disciplined, systematic analysis of your projects conducted by your peers and faculty from the Schools of Engineering, Art and Architecture and the Faculty of Humanities.

6.     Presentations – March 5th

Each group will prepare a 15-minute presentation describing their progress to date; their successes and their failures; major results and obstacles to be surmounted.

7.     Balloon Debate – March 12th

A group of notorious characters is in a hot air balloon that has sprung a leak. Only one person can survive if everyone else jumps off the gondola to almost certain death. Each individual is given the opportunity to persuade the others that he/she should be the lone survivor.

8.     Book/Movie Workshop – March 26th

Urbanized – Cities in Crisis

9.     Critique – April 2nd

Each group will provide a demonstration of their complete and working project in the senior projects laboratory where the Critique will take place. I would also like to see each group’s revised project plan for the remainder of the semester. Incomplete projects will be subject to a severe penalty unless there are extenuating circumstances.

10.  Writing in Groups – April 16th

Professor Gwen Hyman will conduct a workshop in which the guiding principles of group writing will be presented and put into practice. This is a hands-on, participatory workshop in which each group will be required to work collaboratively on producing written work of the highest caliber. Each group is encouraged to bring real communal report writing problems to this workshop. 

11.  Penultimate Thesis First Draft – April 23rd

Each group will submit a first draft of their Final Thesis. It must contain a final abstract, a complete structured table of contents, a final introduction and a temporary conclusion, in addition to incomplete chapters covering the remainder of your work. The diagrams must be legible.

12.  Penultimate Presentation – April 30th

Each three-member group will be allocated thirty minutes (adjustments being made for non three member groups) of which a minimum period of twenty-five minutes must be used for the presentation, the remainder being available for questions and/or demonstrations. Each member of the group must speak for approximately the same duration.

13.  Final Presentation and Thesis Submission – Friday May 3rd

This is the day when you show your work to the school, other members of the faculty and guests from industry. Each project is allocated a period of twenty minutes of which no more than fifteen should be used for the presentation. The remaining time should be used for a demonstration of your system and be regarded as a fundamental component of your work. There is nothing better than a working “widget” to convince others that you really have achieved your goal - the more spectacular the demonstration, the more convincing and memorable the project.

Competitions, Prizes etc:

           You should all consider entering the IEEE Region 1 Paper Competition, held on April 6th in Boston, MA. Cooper Union has had one or more groups placed within the top three every year (apart from 2003 & 2008) for the last 27 (?) years. The incentive, apart from the kudos, is of course the greatly increased prize for First Place - $800 which will spread plenty of good cheer at McSorleys!

           There are many other competitions in which The Cooper Union has placed in the winning arena. This year will see the 13th Design Contest organized by the IEEE student chapter at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The competition, usually held in early May, has some very substantial prizes ( In the first RIT Design Contest, The Cooper Union was placed first and third; last year we gained second and third.