Planning Your Thesis
There are many good resources that will help you start planning your Thesis project:
- Browse and search our Thesis archives on the SURFACE Thesis database, talk to faculty from a class that interested you.
- In the first week of your Junior year, you will be required to attend a Thesis planning assembly,
- Optionally, you can enroll in HNR 309 planning seminar, which are also designed to help you get started.
Engineering students will likely already be involved in lab work, having secured a place by sophomore year. At this point, you should work with your P.I. to delineate a project of your own within the lab’s larger enterprise. It will be a “piece” of the lab’s project for you to manage independently, within the team context of the lab.
You may design your own experiments; you will certainly conduct them, collect your own data, analyze it, and write it up in the context of existing research in the field.
Your Thesis will follow the standard format of a journal submission in your discipline.
Mechanical Engineering students may elect to pursue an individual design project that is based upon the group project completed in MEE 332 Introduction to Machine Design & Manufacturing in spring of your junior year. You would take one aspect of the design and extensively research and develop it, producing a report modeled on the MEE 332 final project report as the substance of your Thesis Project – this time produced by you alone. This will mean getting a later start on your project, however, which can be additionally challenging. To pursue this option, contact Prof. Fred Carranti at the close of your MEE 332 course.
Submit Your Proposal
Refer to our Thesis Proposal Guidelines for details on what our expectations are for your proposal document, and then submit the standard Thesis Proposal Form.
Remember that you don’t need a fully detailed plan for the entire project. Your proposal should be a clear exposition of your project idea, and represent your best current understanding of what the project involves. We know, and so should you, that the project will evolve as it progresses.
Your Advisor will help you refine your topic as you work on the project – narrowing or expanding as necessary.
Juniors should try to secure funding to work on their projects over the summer following junior year. Many engineering students are supported through REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate) programs, Stevens Awards in Engineering, or departmental summer grants for undergraduate research. Ask your Program Director for information about LCS summer funding – in February of your junior year
Honors also has several awards to support Thesis Projects. We fund approximately 20 projects annually, up to $5,000 per project.
Update Your Project Progress
Continue working on the project through the spring semester, meeting every few weeks with your Advisor. Submit a Thesis Update Form – due the first week in April. The Update asks for information on your progress: an initial bibliography, a brief explanation of your methodology, and a fleshed out timeline.
This helps assure that you, your Advisor, and the Honors Program are all “on the same page” about your progress and the timeline for your future work.
499 Course Registration
You will devote considerable time and energy to your project, and you want to get academic credit for your work. The XXX 499 (where XXX is your major prefix) registration is how you do that. Everyone is required to register for one to three credit hours for the Thesis Project in their final semester. That puts one to three credits for the Thesis on your transcript, and provides your Advisor with a mechanism for grading your work. It's also a requirement. Everyone must register for at least one credit of 499.
Find Your Reader
Your Honors Reader is usually a faculty member in your major or a thematically related field. Make sure you ask, in person, if someone will serve as your reader. It can be any faculty member; it does not need to be one "officially" affiliated with Honor, and it does not have to be someone in your major.
Submit a draft of one chapter/section
In the first week of November, you will email one chapter / section of a draft of your final Thesis to your advisor and your Thesis Coordinator.
Submit Written Thesis for Editor Review
About a week prior to the final turn-in of your Thesis , you will be required to submit your finished Thesis to Honors for our editing process. One of our editors will review your Thesis for writing quality (grammar, structure, flow) and will either approve your Thesis for turn-in, or they will flag your Thesis for further editing.
This process gives you the opportunity to learn the importance of final editing and polishing your Thesis before you turn it in for its final submission.