E80 Spring 2016

Additional Course Information

Graded Submissions

LabVIEW Programming Assignments – 5%

There are a series of seven (7) weekly LabVIEW programming assignments due by Friday at 5 PM for the first seven(-ish) weeks of class. They are to be individual (not team) work. They are submitted as a Sakai Assignment (one of the few actual uses for Sakai). A sample solution will be posted by Monday morning after the due date. Details are found here.

Laboratory Reports – 56%

There are a series of seven (7) experiments comprising seven (7) weeks of labs. The contents of the laboratory reports will be graded on a 100 point scale. The experiments will each contribute 8% of the total grade. Lab Report guidelines are found below.

Technical Memorandum – 5%

Each student will write an individual technical memorandum on the Static Test & Flight Model lab. The tech memo will be due two complete lab weeks after the lab is completed. It will be graded for both technical content and proper use of technical English (see also this article). You should submit your tech memo to Sakai under Assignments->Tech Memo. If you need to submit an alternate way, consult your Section Prof ahead of the submission date. Tech Memo guidelines are found below.

Final Presentation – 10%

Each team will make a final presentation during Presentation Days, on Wednesday, 4 May 2016. The detailed schedule is here.The presentation is scheduled for 15-minutes length followed by a 10-minute Q-and-A session. The Final Presentation guidelines are found on the Flight Report page. The rubric is available here.

Final Report –24%

A final technical report will be submitted by each team on the results of the rocket flight. The report will be graded for both technical content and proper use of technical English (see also this article). Your final report is due at the end of your final presentation. The Final Report guidelines are found on the Flight Report page.

Pre-, Intra-, and Post-Lab Policy

You can spend as much or as little time desired on the pre-lab activities. You can often do all of the modeling and preparation for data manipulation prior to the lab. Activities such as examining and/or writing VIs or other code (if you own a myDAQ you may develop and test data acquisition VIs), asking how equipment works, or asking professors about the important parts of lab are encouraged. You may NOT collect data (for you experiment), manipulate or test hardware (except for your personally-owned myDAQ), populate a protoboard, or use the laboratory equipment outside of lab. During the time between your evening and afternoon lab, you can continue pre-lab-type activities. You may NOT process data collected during the lab, collect data, manipulate or test hardware, populate a protoboard, or use the laboratory equipment. After you have finished a lab, you may NOT enter or change anything in the laboratory report related to the completed lab. When in doubt, ask.

Team Assignments

At your first laboratory meeting (see laboratory schedule), your instructor will assign a number to each team (e.g. Team 1, 2, 3, etc.). These assignments will be made using whatever method your instructor desires, and the nominal team size is four (4) or five (5) members. You will also be assigned to sub-teams for some of the experiments. Team assignments will be for the duration of the course.

One of the first tasks for the team should be to assign a team leader for each of the experiments. In this way, the team leader knows which experiment she or he will guide and should be responsible for completing all of the necessary pre-lab to ensure a successful experience for the team. In addition, the team leader will be the recorder during the experiment for which they are leader. Be sure to divide leadership responsibilities evenly based on the number of experiments and team members. Finally, for each lab report, the team leader’s name must be clearly marked.


Please follow all posted listings and safety guidelines. When in doubt, ask someone who knows. Do not be cavalier with your or anyone else’s safety. Repeated violation of safety procedures will result in involuntary withdrawal from class.

Be aware of the following

  1. The best way out of an area where you are working.
  2. The nearest fire extinguisher.
  3. The main power shut-off.
  4. The nearest fire blanket and first aid kit.
  5. The nearest phone and procedure for calling for medical and fire aid.
  6. The nearest shower for washing body and face of corrosive materials.

Seeking Assistance

The instructors and proctors are available to assist you in understanding your labs. Don't struggle with non-functional equipment or confusing procedures. Ask for help. However, you still have the primary responsibility to determine what information you require to complete the experimental tasks and objectives. In doing so, you are encouraged to use any materials inside or outside the laboratory (e.g. library texts, vendor manuals, web searches, etc.), discussions with other students enrolled in E80, students having already taken the course, and especially instructors and proctors. However, you are asked not to view or use, directly or indirectly, present or past write-ups from other student teams.

We are not trying to deliberately confuse you or leave things out (however, see the course objectives and the Helpful Hints below). If you find confusing, ambiguous, or poorly-worded instructions, let us know, and we'll do our best to edit it for future students.

Helpful Hints

The relationship between classroom theory (and equations) and accurate experimental observations is subtle and fascinating. E80 has been structured to guide you to the course objectives, but we cannot force you to learn and understand. In the early experiments, you are given the pieces to understand what is going on, and then led to unexpected observations. Your task is to put the pieces together and explain what is going on. In the later experiments, you are often given the measurement objectives, but not details of the methods to get the measurements. Your task is to decide how best to make the measurements needed for the objectives.

It's analogous to you being given a clean well-stocked kitchen, instructions in cooking techniques and nutrition, and then asking you to make a nutritious and tasty dinner. Those who are used to following strict recipes will feel an initial sense of disorientation, but you should be whipping up a gourmet dinner out of leftovers in the fridge before you're finished. Think Iron Chef.

Here's a few techniques:

Laboratory Report Guidelines

Laboratory reports are created by the team as a whole, not just individual team members.

The report should be time stamped (This practice is invaluable when preparing patents). Microsoft Word has an Insert Data and Time feature that you can use. It must be submitted to the appropriate Assignment folder on Sakai by 4:15 PM during your afternoon lab session. The First Launch can be submitted by 5 PM because there is no network connectivity in the Gravel Pit.

A suggested outline for a typical lab report is listed below. Depending on the order of steps in an experiment, you may need to select a different format, however, the outline is provided as a general example of good practice.

Each of the sections above should be familiar to you, particularly if you have completed the first 3 semesters of the core program at Harvey Mudd College. However, please do not hesitate to ask questions of your instructor if the report format or expectations for content are not clear.

The following paragraphs were written by a recent previous lead professor in E80. They will give you a sense of what professors are looking for in lab reports.

A lab report should be a written record of experimental objectives, procedures, and findings. The instrumentation used/employed should be specified along with indications (initials) of the person(s) making the entries. The write-ups have been in general too vague to allow reproduction of results/observations by others. More care is needed when recording observations and explaining uncertainties. When possible, measured information must and should be compared against known specifications. Differences noted require some sort of explanation. The use of graphs and plots (with clearly labeled axes) is encouraged. Many teams have entered numerous words to describe observations where a simple-but-detailed plot would have sufficed. The teams should spend a bit more time trying to understand unexpected results - explain that more lab time can be realized if pre-labs are completed a priori. For example, it is okay to enter any and all pre-lab derivations before the lab . A good example of this in the Basic Measurements Lab was the derivation of the rise time and bandwidth relationship for the oscilloscope (Ed: from a previous version of the lab).

Preparation of pre-lab information should not be limited to entering formulas into your report. The pre-lab should be a comprehensive plan of attack for completing the lab providing your team with strategy, relevant background, theory, and descriptions for the conduct of the experiment.

An Abstract is sometimes a difficult item to complete in advance of the experiment. It is suggested that you make this entry at the conclusion of the write-up. The abstract should (in general) inform the reader of the problem description, approach taken, results obtained, and of any major conclusions or findings determined. The abstract should be as quantitative as possible (that means include numbers). The Introduction/Objectives should provide the reader with a brief and complete description of the purpose for the conduct of the experiment. Include descriptions of specifications in this section. Descriptions of instrumentation should be brief, can be limited to a list of equipment used, and may include a block diagram or sketch of a particular instrument if necessary.

Descriptions of experimental procedure should include details of the experimental setup and procedure followed. This portion of your entry should be detailed enough to allow the reader to reproduce your results based on the descriptions of procedure followed. Descriptions of results (i.e. measurements, data) should be carefully entered. Include appropriate units and descriptors for all measurements, graphs, and tabulated information. Remember, even coarse plots (those which are hand plotted using raw measurements) may be instrumental in exposing trends in the data not previously observed. All plots must be clearly labeled (with units), titled, and referenced in your write-up. Maintain the distinction throughout the experiment between raw and reduced data. (Data reduction procedures include the application of calibration factors, demeaning time data, or any other analysis or statistical process applied to measured data).

Discussions of your findings should also include descriptions of any analytical procedures used during the data reduction phase of your experiment. Wherever possible, compare experimental results with predictions for analytical model results. Include sample calculations with details sufficient for reproduction by the reader. Describe problems encountered during the conduct of the experiment that directly affected the quality of your results. Remember to always hold your measurements up to acceptance criteria for “good” data. Be sure to include these criteria and a discussion of measurement uncertainty in your report.

Finally, most of the experiments you will complete include a design component. Reflect on the appropriateness of your result within the context of the experimental objectives, and provide some discussion pertaining to your impressions on the suggested findings from your work. Please ensure all entries are legible and submit your report on time.

Technical Memorandum Guidelines

Each individual student is required to prepare and submit a technical memorandum that summarizes the team’s process and results on the Static Test & Flight Model Lab. The memorandum is due at the beginning of your afternoon lab two “class weeks” after completion of the Static Test & Flight Model Lab, not including any time during Spring Break. (For example, if a team completes the Static Test & Flight Model Lab on Wednesday afternoon, March 7, the tech memo is due on Wednesday, March 28, because of Spring Break.) You may use your Static Test & Flight Model lab report as the basis from your tech memo. You should submit your tech memo to Sakai under Assignments->Tech Memo. If you need to submit an alternate way, consult your Section Prof ahead of the submission date.

A technical memorandum is a document that is specifically targeted to technically capable persons, such as practicing engineers or engineering managers, who are interested in the technical details of the project or task. Technical memoranda usually are brief and cover only a single topic. In this case, the technical memorandum will cover the procedures, results, and analysis (including sources and extent of errors) of the Static Test & Flight Model Lab, and is limited to four (4) single-spaced pages with 1-inch margins, using a font no smaller than 11 point. The length limit does not include the figures. However, excessive text on the figures will be included in the length limit.

The technical memorandum will be graded for both technical content and proper use of technical English. The content grade will be 60% of the total, and the English grade will be 40% of the total.

Further details on writing techical memoranda are found in the following link.

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