Project selection criteria for engineering students
Important parameters to be considered are:
Simply fabricating something is a waste of money and effort. The project should be useful to the people in the country or region to which it is targeted. For example, if we are planning to do a room heater in a place where the average temperature is nearly 38 degrees centigrade, it is meaningless. Normally, a project should be in the form of a solution to the existing problem for a specific geographic region. An example is getting desalinated water for a small city near a beach, using a solar power unit.
In some cases, the project will be useful to almost every place.
2. Practical, theoretical, or both.
It is always not mandatory to fabricate something. A theoretical project will also be good. It is like analysis using software, conducting a survey, statistical data analysis using graphs, and so on. In theoretical analysis, it will be easy to manipulate any parameter to get the most optimum values.
Selecting a practical fabricating project will be given more value compared to a purely theoretical project. The best option will be to have a combination of both. That is, to analyze using suitable software and then fabricate to practically co-relate the result to the analysis.
3. Something new
An engineering student need not always invent something new for the project work. But normally, everyone expects at least, something new. So, the student should first do the literature survey for knowing the existing status of the equipment or study that he is thinking of doing. Doing the copy of the existing equipment will not serve any purpose. This can be improvisation of the existing equipment in terms of more production, more accuracy, reduction in cost, ease of operation, compactness, and so on.
4. Theoretical possibility
Many students are getting tempted to do some projects like “creating free energy”, “perpetual motion machine” and such things which are not theoretical. These things are going to violate fundamental laws of physics and hence will not work. But these are shown to work in some unreliable internet sources. Many students will simply waste money and effort in trying to fabricate such equipment. So, students should clearly understand the concept of working on the equipment, before starting the project.
Many concepts are theoretically possible but practically not viable. As an example, let us consider generating energy from raindrops, using piezoelectric cells. The concept is to put millions of piezoelectric cells in fields, streets, terraces, and such places which are subjected to direct impact from raindrops. The kinetic energy of the raindrop will compress the piezo cell, which in turn gives some small electric potential to give energy. But when we calculate the amount of energy that we are getting and the present cost of putting piezo cells, we can find that even the richest country cannot afford so much money to get such a small amount of energy. We will have to spend nearly a million dollars to get about 100 watts, that too during heavy rain!
6. Availability of material and services
Some good projects that we can easily complete in other countries may not be possible in our country because of the availability of materials or services. As an example, some special alloys to build a very light aircraft may not be available in our country. Also, some fabrication and manufacturing processes may not be there in our place. Even if these are available, it may not be economical. If you want to get a fine coating of ceramic on some material, many times we may have to travel to other big cities.
7. Time required to complete
Many students will take big projects with enthusiasm but will not be able to complete them within the stipulated time. As a result, their degree will be unnecessarily delayed. The time factor for an engineering project is about one year.