ISyE 4106 Senior Design Common pre-proposal mistakes As I read all 23 teams’ pre-proposals, I noticed several common mistakes. In order to help you all avoid them in the future, here is a short list (with examples): Provide evidence/proof of your claims.You need to show the readers evidence that what you say is true. Unsupported opinions are not sufficient; if someone else has the opposite opinion (or is unsure), how can you convince them you’re right without proof? Bad:“Decisions are made by hand, so the number of servers in use is suboptimal.” [Problem: some people are good at making decisions by hand, so how can you be sure they haven’t chosen the correct number of servers?] Good:“Servers are utilized only 42% of the time, with a peak usage of only 58%. This indicates that the number of servers is too high.” [The numbers show that servers are used much less than their capacity allows.] Bad:“John Smith believes [or even worse, ‘We believe’] that the 10% could be saved from transportation costs.” [Problem: without evidence to back up the claim, how does John Smith (or you) convince the reader that he’s right?] Good:“In preliminary tests of five randomly-selected truck routes, we were able to decrease driving distance by 25% (see Figures 1A and 1B for an example).” [Showing that you can decrease distance by 25% on a small, randomly-chosen set of routes makes it seem likely you can do the same on the rest of the routes. Figures 1A and 1B should show a current route and the improved version (on a Google Map, for example), along with their total distances.] Describe the project; don’t market the client.The purpose of senior design reports is to explain your project to the faculty and to your client. If anything, you should be trying to convince the reader that the projectis good, not that the clientis good; you’re not trying to convince readers to buy the client company’s stock. Bad:“The Smith Company makes top-quality sandwiches by using only the best-tasting fresh produce.”
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