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Engineering Project Information




How To Do An Engineering Project

The goal of an engineering project is to create a solution or product to solve a problem. During this project you will identify a problem, design and optimize a solution, and share your product with other engineers. 

NASA Video - Overview

Step #1 - Set Up Your Notebook

The first thing to do is to set up your research notebook.  This is just like your class notebook in PLTW.  It will need the following sections:

  • Your name and Research Notebook on the front cover
  • Starting on the first page you will need a Table of Contents.  Include a table that has the headings Date, Title, and Page.  I would save 3-4 pages for this section.
  • The remainder of the notebook will be used for all your information, notes, data, for each sections of this project.
  • Number these pages beginning with 1.  For now, 20 - 30 pages should be enough.  Remember, you can always continue numbering if you run out.

You will use your research notebook to record your ideas, observations, and data during your project.

Step #2 - Ask




In this step you will define the problem you want to solve. 

NASA Video - Step 1: Get Your Idea and Do Some Research

Problem Selection


      • Begin by creating an entry in your Table of Contents titled Problem Selection and the page number where you will begin.
      • Next, go to that page in your notebook and title the page Problem Selection
      • Now it is time to start brainstorming things that interest you.  These could be hobbies, sports, objects, etc.  For each interest, come up with problems that you could design solutions for.  You can also look for problems that you see around your house, school, neighborhood, community, etc.  
      • If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas, talk with your family or friends.  The Science Buddies website has a Topic Selection Wizard that may help you find project ideas.  If you use this site to help generate ideas, do not pick a specific project.  Instead, write down several ideas that interest you.
      • Write these ideas and problems down in your notebook.  You want to come up with at least 5 or 6 problems.
    • Topic Selection 
      • Narrow down your list to the 2 ideas that you think are the best.
      • Keep ideas that:
        • you can solve alone
        • can be solved with a product
        • have not already been solved
        • are approved by adults and your teacher
      • Exclude ideas that:
        • are unsafe or dangerous
        • cannot be solved in 9 weeks
        • are too expensive
        • are too large
        • require large teams of people
        • are outside your skill set
        • use tools and materials you do not have or can easily get




Step #3 - Explore




In this step you will come up with several different product designs that will solve the problems selected in the Ask step. 

NASA Video - Step 2: Ask a Testable Question


      • Create an entry in your Table of Contents titled Research and the page number where you will begin.
      • Go to that page in your notebook and title the page Research. Write your research and requirements on this page.
      • Begin by researching your problem and existing solutions:
        • Look for products being sold that solve your problem
        • Interview friends or adults about the problem or possible solutions
      • Define the requirements for your solution
        • What functions must your product perform
        • What materials can be used for the product
        • What size should the product be
        • What things are not necessary, but would be nice to include


      • Sketch multiple ideas for your product
        • Make sure your sketches show the product from different angles (top, left side, right side, bottom)
      • List or draw materials that you could build with
      • Draw improvements to existing products 




Step #4 - Model




This is where you will build a working prototype of your best product design. 


      • Create an entry in your Table of Contents titled Model and the page number where you will begin.
      • Go to that page in your notebook and title the page Model. Create your model on this page.
      • Choose your best idea and create a detailed drawing that meets your requirements. Include:
        • The types of materials you will use
        • The dimensions of each piece and the overall size of the product
        • How it is assembled
      • Create an exploded drawing of your product
        • An exploded drawing shows each piece of the product before assembly 
        • Label the exploded drawing with measurements, dimensions, and assembly instructions





      • Use your detailed drawing and exploded drawing to build a prototype
        • Make sure to use safety equipment and ask for adult help when needed 
      • Record your building process and steps in your notebook
        • Take pictures during the construction process
      • If you make any modifications to your plan, list these in your notebook
      • Take pictures of the final build from multiple angles

Step #5 - Evaluate




It is now time to evaluate the effectiveness of your product.

NASA Video - Step 3: Design and Conduct Your Experiment

NASA Video - Step 4: Examine Your Results


      • Create an entry in your Table of Contents titled Evaluate and the page number where you will begin.
      • Go to that page in your notebook and title the page Evaluate
      • Write how you will test the product and evaluation criteria 
        • Use your requirements to define evaluation criteria
        • Consider what makes the product good or bad 
        • Think about multiple situations that could cause your product to fail
      • Use your product to solve the problem you selected
        • Conduct several tests to determine how well your prototype meets the evaluation criteria
        • Try your product in multiple situations 
        • Record your observations in your notebook

Example Evaluation Grid



Environment A

Environment B

Environment C

First Requirement




Second Requirement




Third Requirement





      • If the prototype needs changes, modify your prototype. Record these changes in your notebook. Number your prototypes and record which prototype is used in each test.
      • Test your new prototype using the same evaluation criteria and record observations
      • Repeat this process until you have a product that solves the problem. 
      • Draw and take a picture of the product that best solves the problem

Step #5 - Explain




You are now ready to share your final product and the results of your testing with other engineers. You will be creating a poster to display your project.  Since this will represent you as an engineer, it should look professional.  It is recommended that all text is word processed and data tables and graphs are created with a spreadsheet program.  You will also present your project orally. 

NASA Video - Step 5: Communicate Your Experiment and Results


      • Using word processing software, type the following sections using information from your notebook:
        • Title
        • Problem
        • Background research
        • Requirements 
        • Materials
        • Construction process
        • Evaluation criteria
        • Evaluation results
        • Future ideas
      • Draw a plan for your tri-fold poster using the example below
        • The information must be placed in specific locations on the board, match your plan to the example
        • Add creative elements like colors, fonts, borders, etc. if desired
      • Obtain a tri-fold board
      • Print your sections 
        • Keep in mind that it needs to be easily readable from about 3 feet away, so you should use at least a 24 point font.
        • Make sure your printed sections will fit on the tri-fold according to your plan
      • Attach the printed sections, project pictures, and creative details to your board


Eng Display



      • Write a 3-5 minute speech summarizing your project. Remember to include:
        • Your Name
        • Project Title
        • Your Problem
        • A summary of the Background Research and Requirements
        • A description of how you designed and built your product.  Make sure to include the materials you used.
        • A summary of your evaluation process and the results
        • Your future ideas
      • Practice your presentation in front of your tri-fold board 
        • Make sure you can present your speech without reading from your board
        • Practice until you feel and sound confident 
        • Make sure you are speaking loudly and clearly
      • Think about questions someone might have about your project 
        • Practice answers to these questions
      • Give your presentation to fellow engineers 
        • Make eye contact with your audience 
        • Answer questions - it is okay to say "I don't know"
        • Write down ideas that your audience suggests for future improvement