The final project or graduation project is the final proof of the ability of the student to independently handle more complex problems within the area of Systems & Control, and to work as a “scientific engineer” on an advanced level. It is important to find a research group for your graduation project as soon as possible after the start of your master’s programme. With your mentor/supervisor you can discuss the kind of work that you prefer for your thesis research, such that a suitable course package can be proposed to the examination committee.
You can only start your graduation project if you have completed all other study units of your programme, with the possible exception of 10EC of course work.
The final purpose of the graduation project is that the student shows to have obtained the competences of a Systems & Control master.
Especially during the master project you have to show that you can:
- interpret a possibly general project proposal and translate it to more concrete research questions.
- find and study relevant literature, software and hardware tools, and critically assess their merits.
- work in a systematic way and document your findings as you progress.
- work in correspondence with the level of the elective courses you have followed.
- perform original work that has sufficient depth to be relevant to the research in the chair.
- work independently and goal oriented under the guidance of a supervisor.
- seek assistance within the research group or elsewhere, if required and beneficial for the project.
- benefit from the guidance of your supervisor by scheduling regular meetings, provide the supervisor with progress reports and initiate topics that will be discussed.
- organize your work by making a project plan, executing it, adjusting it when necessary, and handling unexpected developments.
- write a graduation project report (thesis) that motivates your work for a general audience, and communicates the work and its results in a clear, well-structured way to your peers.
- give a presentation with similar qualities to fellow-students and members of the chair.
You will have to carry out a project that in general contains elements of both research and design, although one of the two may have more emphasis that the other one. The specific problem will be described in a short project proposal that is handed to you by your supervisor. Your task is to solve the problem or at least to contribute to its solution. Note that it is not precisely known beforehand how far you can get finding a solution. Your problem will be new, not only for you but also for your supervisor. Otherwise it is not “science”. So no one knows the solution to your problem. You will have to find out yourself.
The graduation committee is formed by a minimum of 3 persons, at least two of whom are members of the scientific staff and have a permanent position in the Systems & Control programme. Of these two members, one is a full or associate professor of the chair subject to whose accountability the project will take place. The graduation committee shall also include one member of the permanent scientific personnel of a different chair than that under which the student is studying.
One of the members of your graduation committee will be the daily supervisor.
Assessment of the graduation project will be carried out on the basis of four main criteria:
- Scientific/engineering quality
- Written report
- Oral presentation and defence
Of course the most important aspect of your work is its scientific quality:
- Research question
- Literature study
- Research method
- Contribution and originality
This aspect will be most important for the graduation committee when determining the final grade.
Communication about your work is important, as your colleagues should be able to learn about your work and even to use it as a basis for future developments.
- Problem statement
- Context and existing work
- Discussion and argumentation
- Results and conclusions
- Organisation and structure
- Clarity and language
This aspect is about the way you worked in your environment:
- Independence and initiative
- Acquiring (new) technical skills
- Work attitude
- Interaction and communication skills
Oral presentation and defence
Along with the written communication you also have to be able to give an oral presentation for your colleagues about your work.
- Context and question
- Clarity and focus
- Use of media
- Non-verbal communication
- Discussion, questions and answers
Note that after your presentation, the public will have the opportunity to pose (critical) questions. Part of your presentation is to answer these questions adequately.
Weighting factors for the final grade
When determining the final grade, the scientific/engineering quality will be most important. The written report and the process will have a middle weight. The oral presentation and defence will have the lowest weight.
The study load of the graduation project is 40EC or 28 weeks full time work. It is expected from you that indeed the graduation project is finished after this period. It is therefore important to take care of a realistic planning of your project. Also you should evaluate your planning regularly and discuss your ambitions with your daily supervisor.
The examination board accepts a short delay of four weeks for any reason. Therefore the graduation project should be finished within 32 weeks.
For an extension of the period beyond 32 weeks a request should be submitted to the examination board, in which you explain, why the project could not be finished in time.
See here and here for procedures around the graduation project.