MECH 431 – 2021S Major Report Instructions

MECH 431 – 2021S
Major Report Instructions
In order to demonstrate your knowledge of the class material in a comprehensive, holistic manner, and
to demonstrate your ability to communicate those concepts, you are required to submit a report that
evaluates an engineering economic opportunity (see the lists below for some examples).
Typical subjects are fourth year capstone projects or co-op projects. Some examples include
– Developing biomedical devices
– Custom manufacturing of race cars
– Evaluating machinery purchases and process improvements
Other business opportunities have been used as well, such as
– Investing in real estate for development in Northern India
– Evaluation of a chicken factory in Kyrgyzstan
– The economics of selling hand-made hammocks at a local artisans market
This report is not meant to restrict the types of topics* you choose, so if you have a topic that you’re
interested in but you feel may not be an obvious fit, or you have questions about how you would do an
economic analysis on it feel free to contact me so we can discuss how you might be able to approach it.
*The one exception is an economic analysis of a personal decision such as “Is taking a Masters Degree a
good financial decision?” While this is not a hard restriction, I very very strongly recommend you do not
do your report on such a topic.
The report will be developed, submitted and evaluated in three stages.
Stage 1: Thesis or economic question (4 out of 60)
Try to boil down the major economic question you are asking to a single paragraph. Here you should be
discussing the question in terms of the fundamental economic principles at stake, such as
– What scarce resources are being competed for
– What are the potential trade-offs to be considered
– What is the question you are trying to answer (for example, is it worth choosing process
improvement A, B, or neither? Or, how much should we pay to invest this business
opportunity?)
This should be a paragraph or three explaining what you intend to evaluate for your report. Keeping in
mind the difference between simple, intermediate, and complex problems from Chapter 1, try and find
a topic that is intermediate – something that requires a more comprehensive analysis than you can do
with just jotting down some numbers, but not something so complex it is beyond your ability to model.
Examples:
MECH 431 – 2021S
Major Report Instructions
– XYZ Machining would like to product a new product, but this will require a new machine. Is it
financially worthwhile to make this investment?
– I want to develop a startup providing a short term dog rental service. How much capital do I
need to start this venture?
When evaluating your thesis or question, I will primarily be looking to see if this topic is one that is
amenable to analysis using the tools from this course.
Stage 2: Outline (4 out of 60)
Create an outline for your report. The grading rubric and the course outline will tell you the items you
should cover. Not every specific model or tool in the class needs to be covered, but keep in mind you’re
trying to demonstrate a knowledge of how the different components of the class come together. The
outline should be two levels deep, for example
1.0 Introduction and Problem Statement
2.0 Background
3.0 Economic Analysis
3.1 Project Revenues
3.2 Project Costs
3.3 Taxes
4.0 Etc
5.0 Etc
When evaluating your outline I will be looking primarily to see that the items from the overall report
rubric will be addressed, and looking at the general progression or flow of the report.
Stage 3: Final draft and Final Presentation (52 out of 60)
Report Length:
There is no hard word count. Most of the good reports tend to land within 3000-5000 words. It should
be concise, but contain the necessary information to support your arguments and conclusions.
Calculations and large tables should go in the appendices, summaries and small examples of calculations
can go in the report body.
Submission:
All components of the report shall be submitted through the appropriate module on the course’s Canvas
page. The instructor reserves the right to take submitted reports and evaluate them through
TurnItIn.com or similar tools as well.
MECH 431 – 2021S
Major Report Instructions
Grading Rubric for the Final Draft (48 out of 60)
Category Exceeds
Expectations (4)
Above
Expectations
(3)
Meets
Expectations
(2)
Below
Expectations
(1)
Did not
complete or far
below
expectations(0)
Executive
Summary and
Goals (Thesis) Clearly
presented; Very
high level of
understanding of
background.
Clearly
presented;
Good level of
understanding
of background.
Information is
presented but
more
understanding
of background
should have
been
demonstrated.
Information is
presented but
little
understanding
of background
is
demonstrated.
Data
(comprehensive,
representative,
reliable sources)
Very
comprehensive
data set
compiled;
Extensive use of
primary sources;
In-text citations
used perfectly;
Bibliography wellorganized. Uses
data in innovative
ways
Comprehensive
data set
compiled;
Primary
sources mainly
used; In-text
citations used
mostly
correctly;
bibliography or
footnotes
present
Data set
compiled; Mixsources; In-text
citations used
mostly
correctly;
Bibliography
present.
Minimal data
set compiled;
Mix-sources
used;
Bibliography
incomplete or
incoherent.
Sources of Capital
and MARR As in above
expectations,
plus a
comprehensive
analysis of
sources of
capital, including
assessing tradeoffs between the
different types
and justifying
which types
should be used.
Identifies
specific sources
of capital, and
assess the cost
of each of
those sources.
Determines
before and
after tax
MARR, WACC
and applies
them properly
through
analysis.
Discusses
potential
sources of
capital.
Establishes an
MARR based on
similar industry
standards or
benchmarks.
Applies MARR
correctly to
analysis
Does not
specify sources
of capital
Assumes an
MARR with no
rationale
backing it.
Net Present Value
or Equivalent
Analysis)
Data and
calculations are
correct and
logical, and
address the
major question
Data and
calculations are
mostly correct
and logical
Data and
calculations are
mostly correct
but illogical for
that particular
project
Data and
calculations are
incorrect and
illogical for that
particular
project
Rate of Return or
Equivalent
Analysis
Data and
calculations are
correct and
logical, and
address the
major question
Data and
calculations are
mostly correct
and logical
Data and
calculations are
mostly correct
but illogical for
that particular
project
Data and
calculations are
incorrect and
illogical for that
particular
project
MECH 431 – 2021S
Major Report Instructions
General Economic
Analysis
(discussion of the
economic issues,
Contains the
appropriate
engineering
economic
analyses (for that
specific project)
and they are
completed
entirely correctly.
These analyses
are used in an
insightful and
convincing way in
the proposal.
Contains most
of the
appropriate
engineering
economic
analyses (for
that specific
project) and
they are
completed
mostly
correctly.
These analyses
are used in an
insightful and
convincing way
in the proposal.
Contains an
adequate
number of
appropriate
engineering
economic
analyses (for
that specific
project) and/or
they are
completed with
a range of
correctness.
Analyses used
in the proposal
adequately.
Minimal
engineering
economic
analyses
completed
and/or
completed
incorrectly.
Analyses
incorporated
into the
proposal
argument
minimally and
unconvincingly.
Taxes (should be
specific to the
project or
opportunity under
study).
Data, calculations
and/or
explanation are
correct and
logical
Data,
calculations
and/or
explanation are
mostly correct
and logical
Data,
calculations are
mostly correct
but explanation
or use is
illogical for that
particular
project
Data and
calculations are
incorrect and
explanation or
use are illogical
for that
particular
project
Trade-offs ,
Opportunity Cost
and Scarcity
The report
considers the
question in light
of the
fundamental
economic issues
at stake, and
addresses them
using the analysis
methods
throughout
The report
addresses the
potential
trade-offs and
addresses
them through
the analysis.
The report
identifies the
issues of tradeoffs, scarcity
and
opportunity
cost.
The report does
not consider
the scarcity of
resources, or
any potential
trade-offs.
Uncertainty and
Risk (identify and
appropriately
analyze major
risks).
Clearly
presented, high
level of
understanding
demonstrated.
Clearly
presented,
good level of
understanding
demonstrated.
Information is
presented but
more
understanding
should have
been
demonstrated.
Information is
presented but
little
understanding
was
demonstrated.
Safety,
environmental,
and social issues
(specifically, how
do these issues
impact the
economics under
examination?)
Clearly
presented, high
level of
understanding
demonstrated,
strongly related
to project
economics
Clearly
presented,
good level of
understanding
demonstrated.
Somewhat
related to
project
economics
Information is
presented but
more
understanding
should have
been
demonstrated.
Tentatively tied
to project
Information is
presented but
little
understanding
was
demonstrated.
Discussion not
tied to how
they impact
MECH 431 – 2021S
Major Report Instructions
economics project
economics
Conclusion Draws strongly
from the results
of the analysis,
and makes a well
considered
recommendation,
accounting for
the subtleties
and assumptions
underlying the
analysis, as well
as the hard
numbers.
Draws a firm
conclusion
logically
supported
from the
analysis
presented.
Discusses or
consider the
qualitative
components.
Draws a
conclusion, but
only weakly or
moderately
supported by
the analysis.
Does not
considered the
non-calculated
components.
Conclusion does
not flow from
the analysis
presented.
Report
Organization and
Presentation
Careful
consideration has
been given to
present the
report in a clear,
concise and
professional
manner. Very
well organized
Report is
clearly and
professionally
presented.
Thoughtfully
organized
Report is
presented in a
manner that
would be
considered is
only adequate
by professional
standards.
Adequately
organized.
Not much effort
was made to
present the
report in a clear
and
professional
manner. Poorly
organized,
choppy,
confusing.
Overall Thinking
and
Communication
Includes concepts
that are
extremely
suitable for the
topic and that
show original or
creative thinking.
Extremely
capable of
communicating
ideas and makes
clear and
convincing
argument.
Most or all
concepts are
suitable for the
topic. Some
ideas, and
arguments are
thought
through and
are
communicated
well.
Most concepts
satisfy the basic
requirements
for the topic,
but some do
not directly
relate to the
topics. Ideas
and arguments
are thought
through at an
adequate level
and/or
communicated
moderately
well.
Many concepts
are
inappropriate
for the topic.
Thinking
process is not
clear. Very
difficult to
understand the
connection
between the
analysis and
argument for
proposed idea.
Hints and suggestions based on previous reports
– Include your units for everything.
– Supplementary material such as drawings and renderings for context are helpful to a point.
Include them to ensure the evaluator understands what is being considered, but don’t go
overboard.
MECH 431 – 2021S
Major Report Instructions
– Printing – while you will be submitting electronically, keep in mind documents such as these are
often printed in black and white, including the copies I mark. Ensure your charts and figures are
clear when printed this way.
– Taxes. I know many people don’t like taxes, but you need to account for them in this report.
While most of the examples in class will be from a Canadian tax perspective, your project may
based in another country and your taxes should reflect that.
o If you are evaluating a non-profit or public project, assess the project as if it would pay
income taxes, even if it would not in reality
– Risk, uncertainty, and sensitivity. Address this in a substantive manner. Often the real
questions around a project are not “is this worth doing,” but “how quickly can this go bad,” if we
do it
– Text size. My eyes aren’t that great, please don’t shrink your text to make more of it fit in. Also
note captions and text in figures and graphics can be vanishingly small.
– Remember that all of the tools, models, data, and methods that you use should in some way
relate to answering the economic question you posed at the start. If it doesn’t help answer that
question, you should probably leave it out.
– Have a conclusion. You started with an economic question at the beginning – at the end you
should answer it. It’s perfectly fine if the answer is “this is a terrible idea and we should run far,
far away from it,” so long as your analysis supports that conclusion.
– Address each item in the rubric. Most poorly graded papers are the result of missing entire
sections, as opposed to poorly done work.

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