Final Report Guidelines

Use the Report Template to get started

Executive Summary

This is an extended abstract of 1-2 pages and can include figures. The general public should be able to read this and get an understanding to the background, project objective, design solution, and overall success of the project . The Executive Summary is a stand-alone document that a team member should be able to show during a job interview or "busy executive".

The Executive Summary should be printed and posted as a separate document and also be included in the Final Report. The same figures can appear in both the Executive Summary and Final Report.

Final Report

The final report is a comprehensive document that describes the details of the project. The report should be written in a professional manner, and is a significant component of the 156B course grade.

    • The sponsor should be able to fabricate a duplicate prototype based upon the report.

    • Design decisions should by justified and compared to the range of options considered.

    • Analysis fundamentals should be in the body of the report, but details can be in an appendix.

Examples of high quality final reports:

Final Report Sections

  • Abstract (200 words max) The abstract should contain the motivation for your project, the problem statement, the design approach, results and conclusions. There are no figures in an abstract. See Example of a good abstract.

  • Table of Contents (List of Chapters including Appendices)

  • List of Figures - A reader should be able to view the figures and understand 80% of the report. Good figures should include:

    • Annotations (i.e. arrows with labels).

    • Meaningful caption (i.e. description under the image).

    • CAD figures are good initial figures since they very clear because they only show the parts needed for the explanation. In addition, clear photos with good lighting, background, and annotations are critical to show what was built.

    • Be aware of copying figures from your sponsors or other references. The most clear figures typically need to be customized to the project and redrawn by the team. Always reference any figures not drawn by the team.

    • Review example of a good figure.

  • List of Tables

  • Chapter 1: Project Description

    • Background (purpose for project, description of what the sponsor does, etc.). Example of background.

      • Make sure a general reader will understand who your sponsor is, and the context of the project.

    • Review of Existing Design Solutions (if similar ones exist!). Example of Existing Design Solutions.

    • Statement of Requirements and Deliverables (it is preferable to list the requirements and deliverables in table or bullet form)

      • Specify High Priority, Second Priority, and WOW Solution.

    • Don't forget to use the best figures from the presentations you have made so far.

  • Chapter 2: Description of Final Design Solution

    • Description of Final Design. (This is the key portion of this chapter. Give an overview of the design here, but describe details of each component in later chapters).

      • Include if applicable any block diagrams, flow charts, etc. that describe the functionality of your design. In this section the reader should understands the importance of the components that will be described later

      • Include a CAD figure of your final design with annotations showing the major components.

      • Include a photo of your final design with annotations showing the major components.

      • Describe performance results quantitatively.

  • Chapter 3: Design of Key Components

    • List major components in your design.

    • Each major component should have a sub-section that includes the following:

      • Functional Requirements of the Component

      • Comparison of Designs Considered, typically summarized in table form.

      • Justification of the Final Design choice

        • Include analysis used to justify design decisions, but details of analysis can be included in Appendices.

      • Describe fabrication methods where relevant. (Do not describe routine techniques

  • Chapter 4: Prototype Performance

    • Theoretical predictions

    • Test Conditions

    • Results

    • Comparison of results to initial performance requirements.

  • Chapter 5: Design Recommendations and Conclusions

    • Design recommendations for the future

    • If the product is to be mass produced, discuss how the final version will differ from the prototype made in MAE156B. Include cost estimate for product when mass produced.

    • Safety Considerations

      • Include both considerations for use of the prototype as well as for the product if it is to be mass-produced

    • Applicable Standards

    • Impact on Society. List all impacts including economic profit. (see notes under week 3 sections)

    • Professional responsibility (see notes under week 3 sections)

    • Lessons learned.

    • Conclusions

  • Acknowledgments

    • Make sure to include your sponsor, their affiliation, and email address.

  • References

    • MLA format

  • Appendices

    • Users/Maintenance/Safety/Operation Manual

    • Fabrication instructions to allow sponsors to make additional copies.

    • Drawings / layouts / parts listing (these will need to be checked of by machinist). Also upload CAD files to the website.

      • Bill of Materials (BOM)

      • Specification sheets for parts purchased that are part of the final design.

      • Software code written for the project (also post code in a separate file on the website).

    • Detailed analysis not included in main section

    • Budget

    • Project Management

      • Task Distribution

      • Intermediate milestones

      • Risk Reduction Efforts. List high risk issues identified, and how risk was reduced. Reference this section in applicable section of the main report.

      • Lessons learned over the project. Describe any improvements made in MAE 156A&B in project management, risk reduction, teamwork, or what you would have done differently).

Week 2 Deliverables

By Midnight Friday of Second Week, please upload the draft of the following sections:

Project Description

    1. Background

    2. Review of Existing Solutions

    3. Statement of Requirements

    4. Deliverables

    5. Title page

    6. Appendix with Individual Component Reports

Week 3 Deliverables

Update on prior draft and by Midnight Friday of Third Week, please upload the following section:

  1. Abstract (some parts will be filled in later)

  2. Table of Contents (Can be automatically generated in Google Docs or Word)

    1. Impact on Society (see Impact on Society presentation).*

    2. Professional responsibility**

* demonstrate an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors

** demonstrate an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts

Week 4 Deliverables

Update on prior draft and by Midnight Friday of Fourth Week, please upload the following section:

    1. Applicable Standards: Product development must take into account applicable engineering and industry standards such as certifying that a product is safe to use and/or provides usage guidelines. Besides safety standards, there are other that cover such as things as sustainable development, environmentally friendly design, global conformity, etc. Students must mention which standards are applicable to their design and justify it.

      • Examples of Industry Standards can be found under UL, NSF International or TÜV to mention a few.

      • A helpful presentation can be found here: Engineering Standards

Week 5 Draft I

All portions of the draft should have some material in them, with many of them over 50% completed. Also Include the Executive Summary.

Week 8 Draft II

Report should be 90% complete. Feedback from TA and instructor from Draft I should be incorporated. This draft will be reviewed by another team in the class.

Go over the report during your next meeting with the sponsor. Ask if there is any additional material they would like to be incorporated.

Week 10 Final Report

The final report should be handed to the sponsor during the final presentation. Ask the sponsor to review the report and webpage for completeness.

The instructor will start grading reports after Friday of week 10. Last minute changes can be made to the report up to the poster session, but these changes should be noted so the instructor does not have to reread the complete report.

Grading Guidelines

  • CLARITY. All aspects should be understandable (including good grammar) and follow guidelines for good technical writing. It must be easy to understand the work done.

    • The reports should use the Report Template should as a starting point to ensure uniformity and proper formatting. The template includes an automatically generated Table of Contents, and other useful features.

    • All revisions of the report should be written in the past tense. You are creating intermediate drafts of the final report and you should assume that you are finished while writing. The only exception to this is where you describe "future uses" of the project.

    • Do not write the reports assuming that the reader knows quite a bit about the project. It should be written so that a technical person that knows nothing about the project but should understand it. It may be useful if you ask a friend that is also in engineering but is not in the class review a draft.

    • The text should refer to labeled illustrations with arrows pointing to significant parts. Just about any part, assembly, etc. that is described should be referenced to a photo, graph, illustration, or drawing. All figures and tables should have a descriptive caption. This will be especially useful in any Users, Maintenance or Assembly manual. Make sure any text in figures and illustrations is readable.

    • Metric (SI) units should be used throughout your report. English units can and in many cases should be included in parenthesis immediately following. For example: g=9.81m/s2 (32.2ft/s2). The only exceptions are the mechanical drawings, which may be totally in English units.

    • Use symbols instead of writing out units. For example, use the symbol for degree instead of spelling it out. Plots with angles should be printed out in degrees even if radians are used in the analysis.

    • Please use equation editor when writing out your equations.

    • Make sure you are accurate and consistent. If a parameter changes, update it everywhere it is referred to. In the past there have been reports that have had inconsistencies, for example one report had a requirement with different magnitudes in different parts of the report. It may be helpful if you assign one team member to be in charge of assembling the entire report together. This will help with consistency and can remove redundancy, which happens often.

  • CONCISENESS. Quality, not quantity. The main body of the report should not contain superfluous information that will not be of interest to most readers of the report. Excessive detail in the main text will make the report harder to understand and detract from the overall quality of the report.

    • When in doubt, put non-critical material in an appendix.

    • Descriptions of standard work performed (for example, how you drilled a hole) can be eliminated entirely.

    • Any information that can be put in bullet or table form, such as lists of requirements, deliverables, etc., should be entered in that form instead of paragraph form. It is not only easier to read but easier to write.

  • ENGINEERING GRAPHICS AND COMMUNICATION. Use of CAD, Flow Charts, and Free Body Diagrams are engineering communication tools that are essential for a well constructed report. Some readers will even only review figures and their captions. You may include hand sketches, text, etc. of discarded concepts or designs in the appendix.

    • Captions and legends which appear under the figure should be descriptive enough so one can understand the figure without undue reference to the text. See Figure Guidelines and Examples from Bates College writing guide.

    • Do not make your figures too small! Generally using the full page width is recommended. Make sure the font is large enough to be readable.

    • Use a good combination of CAD and Photos

      • CAD figures are easier to understand than photos, because the areas of interest can be isolated, orientated perfectly, and digitally emphasized

      • Photos are crucial for documenting what was actually built, and should include annotations as well.

      • For all color solid models or photos, do not go overboard on resolution. It makes the report file size unnecessarily large.

      • Match the background color of your CAD image to the background color of your report (almost always white). Saving the images as .GIF or .PNG will allow you to have a transparent background, which will work well with any background.

  • JUSTIFICATION of engineering decisions made. Essential contributions of a design project are the decisions the team has made. Clearly explain and justify these decisions.

  • ENGINEERING ANALYSIS. It should be easy to follow the analytical methods used, assumptions made, and results. Sufficient information should be provided for an engineer to duplicate and verify the analysis presented.

  • COMPLETENESS. All the report components described should be included unless clearly not applicable.

Reference Material for Technical Writing

Common Mistakes

  • The report should be written in third person

    • Search your report for “our”, ”we”, “us”, “you” and revise those parts to 3rd person

  • There are still issues with tense

    • Search your report for “will”, “is”, “are” and see if it is appropriate in the portion that you have written.

  • Do not use ^xx to define an exponent

    • Search for “^” and correct

  • I found many instances of see figure## or references to the wrong figure

    • Search for “figure” and “table” then correct if necessary

  • Make sure you have metric units for all constants, English units can be in parentheses following

  • Some parameters do not have units listed

  • Make sure you format your report so that all tables are on a single page

  • Different fonts were found in some reports. Please use the same font in the main part of the report.

  • Do not use “cheap”