Department of Engineering Science
Competition day procedure - NZ's Next Top Engineering Scientist
|Competition has closed for 2012|
The 2012 question
Next month Felix Baumgartner plans on breaking the world record for high altitude skydiving. He will make his jump from a capsule suspended beneath a balloon, at the edge of space. After Felix has landed, a remote triggering system will release the capsule from the balloon.
In the event that electronic tracking is unavailable, what size search area is required in order to retrieve the capsule?
On competition day each team is required to work autonomously. No individual other than the student team members specified at registration may be involved in answering the question and in preparing the report.
Your teacher MUST NOT assist you with answering the question. On competition day the teacher is there primarily to ensure that you abide by the competition rules.
You are NOT permitted to phone anyone in order to gather information. Any outside assistance on competition day will result in disqualification from the competition.
Your teacher can be expected to make sure that you have access to the things you need (a working computer with internet, library books, etc) and may also submit your report on your behalf at the end of the day. Note that prior to competition day it is perfectly acceptable for your teacher to assist team members with their preparation.
The competition only lasts nine hours. During that time you will need to understand the problem, research any relevant material required to solve it, come up with a solution and write a report. It is highly recommended that as you prepare for the competition your team members spend some time working on the skills required to produce a report. It would be a shame to lose valuable time during the competition because you are not familiar with basic report formatting skills such as typing up mathematical equations, creating graphs and citing sources.
Make sure that you manage your time wisely so that you have something to submit before the competition ends!
Some well prepared teams have even created templates for their reports ahead of time, so that they can save some time on formatting their reports during the competition.
The problem, much like most problems addressed in Engineering Science, is open-ended. Solutions which fully justify the conclusion they make in terms of relevant physics, mathematics and economics are likely to be awarded more marks than solutions which simply quote the results of analysis published by other organisations.
The question will be open to interpretation. There is no unique answer to the question. In fact, we expect to receive very diverse answers – we want to see every team working with the topic creatively.
The problem statement provided does not give any of the numerical data teams may need or want. This is deliberate! Engineering Science studies "real-world" problems which are frequently posed with incomplete data. Teams are encouraged to collect background information on the topic on the day of the competition. It is very likely that teams need to do some research on the topic using the internet or in a library. Be careful not to spend too much time on researching though.
As the question is very general, it may also be necessary to make some assumptions. Teams should make appropriate assumptions to proceed with their analysis. Teams need to clearly state the assumptions they make as well as discuss limits of their formulations caused by the assumptions.
Teams may want to use spreadsheet software or even develop their own program code in order to answer the question.
Students are welcome to consult reference material if they wish to, including books and websites. The final report each team submits should include a list of references being cited. Only freely available material may be used, such as websites or books that are available in public libraries.
Material from the internet that requires a subscription (such as scientific online-journals, for example) may not be used unless it is a resource that all schools in New Zealand have access to. As a rule of thumb, your judges need to be able to access the material you use. You may assume your judges are able to access all the books in your local library as well as information freely available via the internet.
Every report should have the following components:
- Title page
- Main body
Your title page MUST include your team ID. It must NOT mention your names or school.
Summarise the findings and approach taken without the use of technical terms. A lay person should be able to understand your Summary. Mention all important aspects considered in your study and conclude by summarising your findings. The Summary must be one (1) page or less.
Introduce the user to the topic you are working on. Try to generate interest into what follows.
You may want to introduce the mathematical model(s) you use and explain why the chosen model is appropriate or how you formulate it. In this main body of your report, you are encouraged to use appropriate technical language. Also make sure you state what assumptions you make. Discuss your findings deduced from the model and answer the original question. Discussing what influence your assumptions have on your findings may greatly enhance the quality of your report. Remember to include citations (see below for comments on citations).
At the end of your report, you should repeat your main findings in a section called 'Conclusion'. You may want to discuss further work that could be done to enhance your answer. You could also comment on what you would like to improve about your models.
Reports may have the following components:
You may want to include computer code, if you developed some as part of your answer.
Note: Computer code in the Appendix does not replace a good explanation of your model.
An Appendix is additional to your report and the judges may not read it very carefully as they may not want to decipher your computer code. If you do provide an Appendix, keep it short and do not include any important information in it. The Appendix is not considered an essential part of your report by the judges.
Note: Make sure that the length of the whole report, including Appendix, does not exceed the page limit.
It can be said that a well-written report will be likely to impress the judges. On the other hand, a badly written report may worsen the impression an otherwise technically sound report makes on the judges. You need to make sure that the judges understand your approach.
The ID number of the team must appear on the title page of the report. No other reference to the team may be included on the report – do not include the name of team members or the name of your school on the report. This is to ensure the judging process is absolutely unbiased.
You may be disqualified if you do not follow this requirement.
Do not re-invent the wheel! You may, of course, use what others have found out. But it is important that you tell the reader when you do so.
Throughout your report you need to identify (cite) material prepared by others that you use. This includes images used from the internet. You need to include either footnotes or endnotes to do so.
A brief guide on how to cite your references is provided within the final competition instructions, which are sent out on the Monday prior to the competition.
Proper citation of all work by others, included in your report, is necessary. This means that whenever you use a statement or fact you found somewhere on the internet or in a book, you need to cite the source. This includes written material (quotations, but also mathematical models that you find somewhere and decided to use in your report), pictures, graphs, and tables. You may not receive a positive evaluation of your work if you do not cite any sources at all. Likewise, it is necessary to cite sources where they are relevant, either using footnotes or endnotes. Including references at the end of your report with no link to the relevant sections of the report is not proper citation and will affect your score negatively.
You can generate your report using a text processing software of your choice (for example Microsoft Word, Open Office Writer or Latex), but it needs to be in pdf format for submission.
Page size: all pages must be A4
Margins: all margins should be at least 2.5cm wide
Font type: Times New Roman (or similar)
Font size: 12 point
Spacing: spacing should be at least single line
Reports must be no more than 15 pages in length (including the title page, summary and all supporting material such as references and any appendices).
File format for submission
When you have finished your report, it needs to be converted into pdf format for submission.
Ensure (before the day of the competition) that you are able to generate a pdf file on your computer. There is free software available to convert files of different file formats into pdf. We suggest that you make yourself familiar with this file type conversion prior to the competition.
You may only submit a single pdf document
Submissions must be emailed to email@example.com prior to 6pm on competition day, with your team ID number as the subject line.
Name of submission
Your submission should be named using your team id only - eg 1001.pdf.
You may submit partial solutions, so even if you feel you were unable to completely answer all questions or aspects of the question fully, please do submit your report. Bear in mind that all other teams have the same time constraint and may be struggling as well. Even though you submit a partial report, you should try to have a complete report consisting of the following components: Summary, Introduction, (incomplete) Main Part, and Conclusion(s).
Problems with your online submission?
If you have any problems with your submission on the day of the competition, please contact us by phoning (09) 923 3014.
For any enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org.