Table of Contents
Phase I: Basic Research and Project Proposal
To gather background understanding and resources in order to write an educated project proposal. The team will also determine whether or not the project is feasible.
Work with the ESW’s Board and Cabinet to gather up resources (faculty connections, experienced members, even maybe related projects) which may help with investigation and feasibility discussion. Specifically, we should list out advantages of this project, responsibilities we would have to take, possible end uses for the project’s implementation, and any necessary routine maintenance that would be needed. The project details should cover what the project goals and missions may be as well as how much it would cost to implement. When submitting a proposal the Board will discuss the project’s feasibility based on the materials, experience, and funding needed to complete the project. If feasible, we should summarize highlights for this project to attract motivated members. If not feasible, we should have sufficient reason to terminate the project at this phase.
● Identify relevant knowledge areas: As a team, discuss your project idea and what type of information you’ll need to know in order to make educated decisions. Brainstorming would be useful here.
● Identify team competencies: Before you start assigning research, it’s a good idea to get a feeling for how much knowledge your team already possesses, both collectively and for each individual. It’s okay if everyone is new to the field of your project. A major part of this stage is learning and researching.
● Assign research responsibility: Agree with all the members who is going to research what, and try to be specific. It helps to let everyone do some background research “to become the expert” in one particular field. You could try having them teach the rest of the group at the next meeting. This is for efficiency and accountability.
○ Align responsibility with interest: Try to let people research the area they are interested in. The team should also understand that sometimes that’s not possible though.
● Research Similar Projects: For most ESW endeavors, teams will be able to find similar projects completed by other student groups or professionals. Researching other peoples work is invaluable at an early stage to see what has been successful and what hasn’t.
● Start networking: Make contacts with experts, ask professors for advice and information, make a call to local companies to get an idea for how much something costs, etc. Networking makes projects easier and more effective!
○ Start within ESW: Your Director is there to help. Many of our members, as well as Cabinet and Board, have a lot of knowledge. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.
○ Afraid to make the call or ask a professor? We all come in at different levels of skill. Talk to your Director; they’re there to help!
● Identify critical factors: These are the factors that you must determine before you can move forward. Sometimes they’re predetermined, and sometimes you need to make a decision. You’re basically trying to figure out the key questions that need to be answered.
○ Example: Before determining the design of the Solar Slider, we needed to determine how many panels it needed. To know that, we needed to know how much power it should generate. To know the power output required, we had to find out the estimated kWh capacity of utility vehicle batteries. The battery capacity was a critical factor.
● Assess Feasibility: Knowing the background information of the project, you should be able to discuss whether the original idea is even feasible. Every project comes with hurdles, or challenges, and these hurdles can make or break a project. It is very important for a team to understand the complexities of each hurdle and how the team will handle them. If it seems that a specific hurdle may prevent the project from being successful, then the team needs to work as one to see how they may overcome this challenge. There is no reason to continue the project until this challenge has been resolved, or least a clear plan of action has been established.
○ Example: In the Solar Slider, we wanted to charge an electric vehicle battery. We found out that the battery capacity was above 20 kWh. That would require eight 250W solar panels working at abnormally high capacity for an hour. Not feasible. So we decided to provide a different goal to meet.
● Make (Tough) Choices: Particularly for the critical factors, you have to make decisions at some point. These decisions will guide your team as you all work towards a future design to address your critical factors.
○ Example: Battery Capacity was a critical factor for the Solar Slider. However, we had to decide how much we wanted to be able to recharge. We chose 50% of its capacity.
● Identify how the Project Aligns with ESW: In particular, see what goals the project fulfills.
● Sustainability: Make sure you can answer these questions: i) How is the project itself sustainable? ii) What happens to the project once it’s complete? iii) Who is responsible for taking care of it once it’s done? iv) What resources will they need to take care of it (special parts, instructions on how to maintain it) v) How long will it be operational? vi) When it stops functioning, how should be it decommissioned (taken apart, recycled, reused, thrown away)?
● Complete Proposal Form: The proposal form is a type of report that a team completes to help better understand their needs in order to ensure project success. You would then submit this report to ESW so that they can get the necessary help the team needs.
What to Submit:
Deliverable: Project Proposal
Project Proposal Template:
● Project Name(s)
● Project Description
● ESW Alignment
○ Community Involvement
● Mentor Request: (It is very important that your project team has a professional, either a professor from campus or an active community member, to not only look towards for help and direction, but also double check calculations and help with networking)
○ Desired skills of mentor
○ Length of commitment from mentor
○ Time required per month
● Needed Positions for the Project: (Each project realistically needs only so many members. How many people will be required to finish this project and what will be required of them with respect to their contribution?)
● Contact: (Team leader or person who proposed project)
● Suggested Tasks: (A breakdown of the project into tasks while neglecting time)
● References and Inspiration: (Every website, book, or news article that inspired this project).
Most importantly, you want to build competence and comfort with the relevant knowledge areas so you can move to Phase II. The Project Proposal informs us what your basic idea is. Set up a meeting time to present to the Board of Directors your project proposal. Contact the current Vice President of Project Management to set up an appointment.
Passing the Phase:
Once your project passes this phase, that means we (the Cabinet and Board of ESW) are all in for helping as much as possible. Your project will also be officially incorporated into our accountability and project structure.