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Sixth -semester B.Tech/BE -civil engineering students. Kick start your final year the following article

Jayarajan P
26 May 0 0

The field of civil engineering deals with the planning, analysis, design, construction and maintenance of utilities & structures including buildings. Civil engineering is undergoing a total transformation as seen by its evolution from the great sphinx & pyramids of Giza (ancient Egypt civilization) to Dubai creek tower of 1345m in height. Some of the new challenges in civil engineering of the twenty-first century come from population growth, urbanisation, energy use & global warming, water scarcity, waste management and durability crisis. The solution might include green buildings, intelligent structures, sustainable design, life cycle management. A modern global civil engineer shall ensure that civil engineering profession is now a multi-disciplined entity and accordingly shall broaden his minds, assimilate knowledge from other fields and consider continuous knowledge accumulation. Alwin Toffler has rightly pointed out “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn quickly”.

The challenges listed above essentially highlights the important prerequisites expected of a modern civil engineer. The final year project provides a unique opportunity for students to put together all the knowledge assimilated in order to solve a challenging problem in engineering. Civil engineering undergraduate students are about to complete their sixth semester and enter into the final year. They must have already gone through almost 30-40 core courses by this time covering different subjects under various sub-disciplines. It shall be noted that as part of their final year project, students shall work on innovative civil engineering projects continuously for one year and improve their career prospects.

The essential steps for the project work include

  • Formation of the project group: The group essentially consists of four to five students. The group members shall be equally responsible for working in tandem to achieve their final objective. There must be a good level of understanding among them from start to the end. A good team spirit is the essence of getting the challenging targets realized. One member of the team shall preferably act also as a group-coordinator
  • An innovative and socially relevant topic for the project work: Once the group is realized, a lot of homework is required to select a topic for the project. The team members shall consult with the industries such as private/public design & construction firms, research organizations and institutes of national repute to arrive at a set of topics that could be considered for their project. The possibility of collaborating with research institutes or design organization on running projects shall also be properly exploited as this would result in value addition to the work. Students shall continuously interact with their faculty, seniors & research scholars of the institute to discuss their choices. It is also important that students shall not be over-ambitious and be realistic in finalizing their topic ensuring that a faculty-guide for the selected topic, laboratory facilities for experimental investigation & computational facilities required are readily available within the institute. The students can also venture into topics that would be continued as a research work in their post-graduation thesis work.
  • Selection of project guide: Having selected the topic, it is now important to search for a faculty willing to support for the project work. The student could also consider two project guides, the senior faculty being the main guide and junior, the co-guide. Before selecting a guide, sufficient feedback shall be obtained from senior students. The student shall note that the faculty is readily available throughout the year for review and guidance in the right direction. Many cases were seen, in which a guide selected though competitive is seldom available due to some other administrative responsibilities or other academic research activities with the result that the project work concludes without the realization of objectives and to the disappointment of student group.
  • The first round of discussion with the project guide: The student shall sincerely plan for the first meeting, as usual, this is not the case. They must be able to explain their project topic. clearly charting out the objectives and a clear road map for the completion. The discussion should also focus on the uncertainties if any for the project and the methods for mitigating the same. The guide shall be proactive and instil confidence in the student group. The technical competence and availability shall be always the crucial factors to be considered for the guide selection. The experience of the faculty both in the consulting & research shall be given due credit.
  • Detailed literature survey: As students are exposed to new work for the first time, it is important that they go through the various works done in the relevant field to date. This requires the students read various technical papers in the chosen topic published in reputed national & international journals, conferences etc. A thorough review would enable the students to get a broad understanding of the chosen topic and its technical relevance. The review would also help the students to clearly identify the task ahead and make the preparations well in advance. In the case of some topics, students shall improve their fundamentals reading relevant textbooks. Adequate support could be obtained from the project guide in this respect. The students shall also consider the possibility of publishing the review work in a journal or in a conference as this would add different colour and dimension to the work.
  • First stage presentation: In many cases, students are found to be least prepared for their first phase presentation. Students should realize that this an opportunity to demonstrate their involvement & seriousness in the work. The report shall be concise, clearly outlining the topic, objectives and methods of execution. A thorough literature review shall be presented with the supporting papers clearly indicated in the reference section. Students shall submit the first report to the guide at least two weeks in advance to ensure that it is thoroughly reviewed and comments are being properly taken care.
  • Main work: After a literature review, it is the time to start the core work. Students shall submit a detailed work schedule to the guide for the approval. In the case of experimental work, it is vital that students check the acceptability of the chosen test set-up by performing standard tests. The sample preparation and analysis of test data shall be given due consideration. In the case of software, students shall have a good understanding of the applicability and limitations of the chosen platform. The work-results shall be continuously monitored and discussed with the guide and corrective actions if any shall be undertaken without any delay.
  • Final report: A good report is an indicator of a student’s involvement in the work. The report preparation shall be a continuous process rather than planning it for tomorrow. A hard work done continuously for one year shall be presented in the form of a report that is concise, well-drafted and having accurate information. Sufficient care shall be taken to see that the figures and sketches are readable and the report checked for grammatical errors. The report shall provide a clear visibility to the work done. It shall highlight the conclusions, challenges and the scope for future works if any.

The various project topics that are innovative and relevant to various sub-disciplines of civil engineering in will be posted in the next week.

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