Welcome to Northwest Engineering Inc. I’m the CEO, boss, and your supervisor. Here at NEI we characterize the performance of large mechanical machinery for use in other engineering systems.
Before we tour the lab and assign projects, you need to know how the class is structured. Here’s a link to the course syllabus with the schedule: ME 406 syllabus Sp19.
During this first Engineering Experimentation third of the class, each class lecture corresponds to the portion of your report and presentation you need to complete. Let that be clear, if you keep up with the class lectures, the work of completing your report and presentation will be spread out over the next month and you can probably finish the work during the lab time without the need for homework. The amount of work you need to do for these reports and presentations is extensive — in many ways like running a marathon. It’s up to you whether you want to run the marathon in increments over the next month, or attempt to do it the night before… and I don’t award misery points.
Welcome to Chapter 1 — Introduction
99.5% of readers finish the first sentence of a report regardless of whether the sentence is written well (Holtz et al. 1994). This first sentence sets the tone, creates a hook, and an expectation for the rest of your report. Utilizing citations to justify your point builds relevance and credibility. Keeping this first sentence, and those thereafter, less than 22 words is a good rule of thumb.
In this first Chapter you need to empathize your readers with your cause. You need to show your primary audience/reader that you understand the problem, the needs of your audience, and the needs of your client. Don’t simply TELL US you understand, SHOW US you understand by doing a thorough job of reading and quantifying the significance of the problem. Pandering gets annoying very quickly. For example, “We’ve read the project requirements and fully understand what’s at stake.” — That’s the kind of desperate writing I see all of the time when people waited too long to write their reports and use filler the night before. Anybody can say that. Don’t waste your time!
Go to Google Scholar and find a few articles or theses to see what opening sentences and paragraphs appeal to you and which ones do not. As you’ll see, there’s a natural progression here. A good Introduction Chapter sets up the need to review the prior work, standards, and competing design paradigms in a thorough literature review. Hence Chapter 2 — Background Literature. From there, a clear need to investigate a specific concept, and necessary equations will lead to Chapter 3 — Theory. The theory section is useful to show you can validate your theoretical predictions with an experiment, hence Chapter 4 — Experiment. Ultimately you’ll conclude with a thorough comparison of the theory and experimental results, that will hopefully solve the needs and concerns of your client/boss, hence Chapter 5 — Results and Conclusions.
Now let’s partner up for our A projects. In the past, we’ve defined partners for A projects based on GPA, however I’ve found through experience that nearly all metric-based attempts at team formation fail to predict who you do your best work with. The best way to form a team is to allow you to use your judgement. You know who you work best with, and this will be a lot of work.
Here’s the list of projects we’re going to run as “A” — ME 406 Project A assignments. I want you to use a sticky note to vote for each project with a 1, 2, or 3. Discuss these with your partner and we’ll have you mark them on the board.
Now let’s go down to the lab space and do a safety review before you get started. Here’s the safety form I developed with WSU Environmental Health and Safety — ME 406 Safety Checklist and FMA. These are, indeed, powerful machines and they can break. The reality is we don’t have the resources in our department to continuously service them — this is a reality in many work places. As an engineer, you need to make it a common practice to conduct a safety overview and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) before you operate a machine. Not just for your own safety, but the safety of the machine as well.
To help with our safety walk through, we’ll also have a quick Kaizen 5-S event. Kaizen is the Japanese word for continuous improvement. It’s often used in modern lean manufacturing philosophies. 5-S stands for Sort, Sweep, Systemize, Standardize, Sustain. To orient ourselves in the lab after walking through all of the experiments, we’ll do a quick Sort, Sweep, and Systemize events to ensure we understand what everything is for in our workplace.
By the end of lab today you should have the following completed:
- Complete the Safety checklist and FMA document above and submit for approval by the TA. This is required before you operate the machinery.
- Participate in the 5-S event to understand what is in your workspace.
- Draft an Introductory chapter for your A project report.