R&D Project and Master Thesis Guidelines

Proposal

Different supervisors may have different preferences on what constitutes a good proposal. What is outlined below reflects my personal take on it.

Outline

A rough guideline of what should be contained in your proposal includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. Related Work
  3. Problem Statement
  4. Project Plan
    1. Work packages
    2. Milestones
    3. Project Schedule
    4. Deliverables
  5. References

General remarks

  • Please use the official MAS Proposal Template.
  • Make sure you get in touch with me well before the deadline! Writing a proposal is an iterative process, which means it will take several weeks to get your proposal in shape.

Note:

Your proposal and title should be approved by all your supervisors at least two weeks before the proposal submission deadline.

Make sure you have filled in the form and collected the required signatures in time!

  • Try to find an intersection between my research interests and your problem. I can only give you advice on topics that I know.
  • Make sure you understand what the problem is. Although the literature search will continue during your project, it is important that you at least have a basic understanding of why your problem is a problem while writing your proposal.
  • I prefer quality over quantity. There is no minimum number of pages in your proposal, however it should be clear from the contents that you are familiar with the literature and that you understand your problem well enough.
  • Read and cite papers from major conferences first.
  • Your introduction should
    • provide a general overview of the topic you’re covering
    • establish why is it important
    • give context to your problem (e.g. if it’s part of one of my projects)
  • In your problem statement make sure you are very clear about what are you going to solve and how are you evaluating your results
  • Workpackages let you split your work in logical units. Keep in mind that depending on your project, you will probably need to add work packages that are more suited to your projects. The bare minimum will include the following packages:
    • WP1 Literature Search
    • WP2 Experiments
    • WP3 Project Report
  • Your project should include the relevant milestones. You should expect to have a meeting to show the results of each of them to both supervisors. Depending on your project, these are a few that you may need to include:
    • M1 Literature search
    • M2 Experimental setup
    • M3 Experimental Analysis
    • M4 Report submission
  • The gantt chart or timetable in your proposal should be realistic. It doesn’t have to be very detailed, but it should include the milestones you mentioned above. Make sure to include the writing of your report throughout the whole project, not just at the end and reserve the last month for mostly writing.
  • Include what the deliverables are, i.e. the things that you will submit together with your report. For my projects I usually will ask you for these:
    • Minimum
      • Survey (contained in your report)
      • Analysis of state of the art (contained in your report)
      • Source code of a simple simulated use case
      • Source code of approach integrated to one of the robots
      • Video of a demo on one of the robots
    • Expected
      • Source code for the comparison of approaches in the robot
      • Documentation of the developed source code
      • Videos of each of the approaches
    • Desired
      • Source code integrated to a complex scenario

Misc.

Good things to learn/practice while you prepare your proposal:

  • Git - Following a git branching model such as git flow is recommended.
  • Best practices for coding - Make your code readable to other humans and provide instructions for running and using your code.
  • LaTeX - Your project needs to be written in LaTeX, so you might as well get familiar with it.
  • Make yourself familiar with linux, especially the command line.
  • ROS - Odds are that the robot where you will perform your experiments will be running ROS. Getting familiar with it before you are under time pressure will make things easier for you in the long run.

During Your Project

Time Management

  • As a recommendation, you can send weekly or fortnightly progress reports via email even if we can’t meet.
  • Don’t forget that your projects require a certain amount of hours of work per week.
    • R&D Project: 16 hours
    • Master Thesis: 40 hours (it’s a full time job!)

Meetings

I will leave up to you how often we meet to discuss your progress. However keep in mind that:

  • Milestone meetings will take place with all your advisors, which means we will at least meet once every two months.
  • You are responsible for your project and for scheduling all the meetings that you need. You can book a meeting with me here.
  • Take notes during your meetings and send a summary of those via email to all your advisors.
  • If you want feedback on some document, make sure you send it early enough. Avoid sending it the day before your meeting.

Writing

  • Make sure you use the official MAS Report Template.
  • Write and document things as you go along. You will not remember which parameters you used in month 3 while running experiments if you start writing on month 8.

Submitting your R&D or thesis

Make sure to read the official guidelines for the submission in the official wiki.

The CD you submit along your project report must:

  • contain all source code developed for your project, with instructions on how to run it
  • be securely attached to your report, preferably using a sleeve pasted to the back cover.

Preparing your defense

The beamer template for your defense can be found here. Don’t wait too long to start preparing it, keep in mind that:

  • the public part of your defense will last 20 minutes. The Q&A session will be divided in two:
    • a public part of 10 minutes
    • a private session of max. 30 minutes
  • you should try to rehearse your defense before you actually present it
  • the content of your R&D will be fresh in your head closer to your submission date

Getting a date for your defense

Defenses are usually scheduled for the second examination period. The concrete date needs to be agreed upon by all your supervisors. Once you have submitted your report and have sufficiently prepared your defense, you can send an email to your all your supervisors to ask for a date for your defense.