How to decide final year project topic – for Engineering Students
I have been asked a lot of questions on how to decide “new and innovative project or research topic” by so many Engineering students from different areas especially Biomedical Engineering personally and through inbox. Most of these questioners ask for specific topic recommendation which is actually difficult to suggest someone depending on own interest. I was doing the same thing when I was studying my Bachelor degree in the same field. The most important considerations that help you decide your own topic are going to be discussed in this article one by one. The field doesn’t matter whether it’s Mechanical, Electrical, Civil or any other Engineering field in deciding which topic best suits the researcher. Most of the time, the final projects are done at the end of semester of the study for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. However, this is the time when the students can’t get further formal lecture support from their teachers because the learning time is about to end and they need to apply the knowledge accumulated through previous semesters. As the result, most students underestimate themselves that they don’t remember what they have learnt so far and they get afraid of every topic that someone suggests them claiming that it’s difficult topic. This is the main point which I want to include in this article.
So, what should you do as a final year student?
- Try to figure out your area of interest
Being a student of a certain field doesn’t mean that you are interested in all areas of it. Therefore, it’s not your obligation to know everything related to that field, but you can have special interest in some study areas in that field. Figuring out your area of interest is extremely important not only for applying the knowledge you have accumulated before but also to stay motivated till the end of your project/research as the time interval to complete the work is from 6 months to one year. Actually, the duration varies from country to country, field to field, or it may also depend on the degree levels (bachelor’s or master’s). From my experiences, students of bachelor’s degree in engineering are given the final semester, nearly five months (in Ethiopia) and students of master’s degree in engineering are given the final two semesters (in India) to complete their final projects.
Importance of determining the area of interest
- You already have some basic knowledge about it,
- You will have motivation to read it further,
- You can keep doing it better throughout the semester(s) without getting bored, because it’s your interest area.
2. The topic must not be too easy or too difficult
If your topic is easy, that is not research or project, because, research must be new and project must be something innovative. Research as its name implies is “searching for new findings”. If you already know the solutions for your problems stated on your research proposal, you don’t have to search for new findings; so, it isn’t called research. The same principle is applied to technical projects; it must be something new which advances innovation. In addition, your topic must not be too difficult to be accomplished within the limited time given for it.
In general, your topic:
- Must not be what you already know,
- Must be something that can be done within the given time duration.
3. Do something practical
Engineering project is not just writing an original content of your own, but it is building some physical or software tool which solves some problem in a more effective way than existing techniques. Claiming your project’s degree of effectiveness by yourself is not enough, it has to be validated (often by third party) that it can be used to tackle the stated challenge. For example, if your project involves acquiring physiological data from patients, you must deal with both hardware and software.
4. Check availability and accessibility of the necessary resources
Before deciding your topic, you have to make sure the availability of the necessary components which make up your project’s entire work. For the data acquisition example above, if the integrated development environment (IDE) you are going to use is Labview, then you also need many other hardwares such as: NI ELVIS II Series Benchtop Workstation, NI ELVIS II Series Prototyping Board, Vernier Analog Proto Board Connector, Wires to build circuits, and other sensors depending on your project. These all hardwares and the software, Labview are designed by the same company, National Instruments (NI) to work together. For example, to acquire ECG from a patient you need to have Labview (on which you draw your graphical programming), all the above hardware and ECG sensor with electrodes.
In general, know what hardware, software or any other components you need for your project’s completion before going further and make sure their availability and accessibility.