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Engineering Report – A Guide to preparing your report

Outcomes

This unit of work addresses aspects of the following syllabus outcomes:

H2.2 analyses and synthesises engineering applications in specific fields and reports on the importance of these to society.
H3.2 uses appropriate written, oral and presentation skills in the preparation of detailed engineering reports.
H6.1 demonstrates skills in research and problem solving related to engineering.

Extract from Engineering Studies, Stage 6 syllabus. NSW Board of Studies, 1999.

Introduction

Engineers carry out field surveys, research large quantities of data, and apply their knowledge and skills to analyse a product or system, and to synthesise new solutions to engineering problems. Almost all engineering tasks of this type need to be reported on. A report may be needed to inform a supervising engineer of the approach being taken to solve a problem. A report may have to be prepared for the Managers of a Company or Board, who may not be engineers themselves, to outline a new scheme, or to present the benefits a new approach might bring to a project.

An engineer may have to construct a report to inform trades people of procedures to be taken, or methods to be used, and so on. Report writing is an important role for all engineers.

Importantly the structure and content of a report may well determine whether one engineering company gets a contract, over others, and it may well determine the success or otherwise of an engineering enterprise.

The Engineering Studies syllabus requires that students write reports on their engineering activities in both the preliminary year, and the HSC year. “… Reports developed in the HSC course should encompass a degree of both analysis and synthesis of one or more areas of relevant content, and reflect actual engineering practice” (Board of Studies, 1999: 11).

The following format may be used to assist students in framing an engineering report on a project given to them as part of their course. Brief notes are given about each section of this guide, and space with subheadings you may use are given within the ‘boxes’.

You should always have a title page to open a report. This can have basic information on it, and possibly with a photograph or graphic.

Title page

Name of engineering report




Student name




Date




Class




Reason for submitting




Photograph or graphic or diagram



Bibliography

Before you start to write your report you will need to keep track of the sources of information that you are going to use in your report. This is called a Bibliography, or Reference. You need to create a Bibliography page, and every time you make reference to a new source of information that you want to include in your report you need to record its bibliographical information on your bibliography page.

Check this link to find out how you reference bibliographic material – Bibliography

Research

In this space create a rough outline of your research plan, that is, areas you need to understand.






















Research – draft plan

Topic 1:

Source:

Research
(write this in your OWN words)
















 

Topic 2:

Source:

Research
(write this in your OWN words)
















 

Topic 3:

Source:

Research
(write this in your OWN words)
















 

Topic 4:

Source:

Research
(write this in your OWN words)
















 

Topic 5:

Source:

Research
(write this in your OWN words)
















 

Topic 6:

Source:

Research
(write this in your OWN words)
















Now, it’s time to write your report

Page 1

The bulk of the report should start on page 1. However, this section of the report should only be written after you have finished the bulk of your writing. This is a summary of what is in the report.

Abstract or summary

You write this LAST,
but put it first.

It tells the reader in a
few paragraphs what
your Engineering Report
is about, so that they can
decide if the information
that they want is in it.
 

Introduction

Next you need an Introduction to your report.

Heading: Introduction

The introduction tells the reader what your report is about and sets the scene for the research, that is, it tells the reader what the problem is or what the report is about, why it is a problem, how it has been approached to date and what is known about the problem in basic terms.

What the report is about in some detail. This report ...

Include connectives, (such as firstly, as well as, however, … to link ideas together.

(E.g.  “This report is about Household Appliances.” is NOT good enough for a Year 11 or 12 report. “This report presents a summary of the development of the washing machine and kitchen kettle, detailing how they work and developments in their construction materials over time, as well as the reasons for the changes.” This is a better leading sentence.

Why is it a problem?  

(E.g.“This report is written because I have to” is NOT good enough for Year 11 or 12.  “As time progressed, developments in materials, particularly developments in polymer technology, have allowed the materials from which the kettle is manufactured, from ceramic to metals and polymers to improve performance and lower cost.  Similarly, washing machines are no longer made from enamelled steel as paint and manufacturing technology now allows them to be made from stainless or mild steel.” This is the expected standard) [Note the use of the connective, ‘similarly,’ to link ideas together]

How it has been approached so far?  

(E.g.“Improvements in technology have allowed the items to be made cheaper and easier” is too general for a Year 11 or 12 report.  You could write this sentence having done no research, as it is a vague generality that applies to everything.  “Improvements in the structure of polymers and their forming processes have allowed polymers such as reinforced polypropylene to be used for the body of the kettle, which drastically reduces forming time and complexity/cost when compared to a ceramic kettle, as well as displaying more favourable heat insulation.  Improvements in metals technology now allow the formation of a sealed metal element into the base of the kettle, as opposed to inserting a nichrome wire into the water and boiling it through direct contact with the element.” This is an example of the expected standard.

What is known about the problem?  

The standard of expected answer is similar to:  “The predominant reason for a change in the materials used in kettles is consumer demand; slip-cast ceramic kettles are unpopular due to their appearance, weight and fragility (both the kettle and the element were easily damaged). Developments in polymers and metal forming techniques have allowed for a more modern appearance for the kettle, as well as the ability to form complex shapes as one piece, allowing for a more visually appealing kettle to be produced at a lower cost than a slip-cast ceramic kettle.

The introduction is typically one to three paragraphs long, but it only needs to be long enough to provide a clear introduction to the topic. The detail should be in the main body of the report.

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Research

The next thing you need to put in an Engineering Report is a summary of your research, relevant to the task.

In the pages below, write up your research in your own words:

Sequence your ideas so that they flow in a logical order.

One idea per paragraph only.

Make the paragraphs as long or as short as you need to without being too verbose.

Structure your paragraphs as you need to in order to get things making sense.

Do not hand in a cut and paste. It’s simply a waste of time that says to the teacher that you didn’t bother understanding the work and just handed in anything to get the job out of the way.  It scores zero as well as a need to resubmit in your own words anyway, so you might as well do it the first time.

Remember, paragraphs start with a topic sentence, include the body and finish with a concluding sentence.  Use connectives to link the paragraphs together.

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Experiment

If you have an experiment in your engineering report, then it should be included here.

Aim: What do you want to prove?








Hypothesis: What do you think will happen?








Equipment used:








Procedure:






















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Experimental results

In this section, you provide only the results.  Include graphs, charts, tables, or any other way of providing the information that’s valid.






















The most critical part of an Engineering Report is the DISCUSSION OF RESULTS.

Discussion of results (or research)

Tell the reader what you think is important from your summary of relevant research and the experiments you conducted (if you did conduct any experiments.)

This is where you need to demonstrate band 6 qualities – to CRITICALLY ANALYSE and JUSTIFY your statements.

Critically: Add a degree or level of accuracy depth, knowledge and understanding, logic, questioning, reflection and quality to … [an analysis]
Analyse: Identify components and the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications
Justify: Support an argument or conclusion

From your research, structure paragraphs in a way that are something like

Topic sentence ...
Research says this about the topic...
This is what I saw in the experiment (if you did any experiments)...
This is where my findings agree with research ...
This is where my findings differ from my research ...
This is my analysis of the research ...

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Conclusion

A conclusion is a brief summary that may be between two and five paragraphs long.

It summarises or states the main findings of the report, and answers the brief or reason for writing the report.

To be successful, a conclusion needs to be very clearly written.

Remember connectives between each paragraph are mandatory to link ideas together.

Remember the structure of the paragraph.

Use one paragraph for each idea/theme.

Bibliography

In engineering, you need to tell the reader of your report exactly where you got your information from.

If it was a website then you need to not only tell the reader the URL, but also the date you viewed the website, as websites can be changed quickly. Remember to use web sites from reliable sources, such as government departments and universities. Some internet sources can be unreliable.

The preferred source of information is a textbook or what is called reviewed information, where content has been checked.
In the front of a book is a title page. Find any textbook and open it up to the title page.

Now, look at the back of the title page, this is the imprint. On this page, you will find the following:

If your source of information was a magazine article, then you need the following:

If it was a discussion with an expert, just give the date and the expert you spoke to.

In engineering reports, footnotes are included as 'superscript'.

Here’s an example showing how to place footnotes in the text and then in the bibliography.

According to research,[1] the nature of steel varies as temperature changes. ,[4] This is shown in numerous examples, where steel buckled under a very moderate load, and has been shown to be due to the presence of heat impingement on the wall of the furnace in this instance.[3]

Bibliography (on the very last page, NOT straight after the information).

[1] Bloggs, B. (1990) Strength of metals, 2nd edition, Permagon Publishing: Oregon, p. 14.
[3] Discussion, Mr Frederick Q. Nerks, Sydney University, 13 February 2008.
[4] Spindler, H. (1961) Overview of metals, Scientific American, Volume 158, No 2, February, p. 1435.

For more information on compiling a bibliography click on this link - Bibliography

The bibliography is placed at the very end of the report, after the conclusions but before the appendices.

Appendices

Information that you have collected that is relevant to the topic of the report, such as pamphlets, photographs, drawings and sketches, or graphs and tables of experiment results, should be neatly organised and attached to the report as appendices.

Reference can be made to these documents as part of the discussion section of the report. If needed, a reader can simply open the relevant appendix to read more information about a point you are making in the report itself. In this way the main discussion is not cluttered with non-useful material.

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