1 Topic

w2 – project 2023-2024

This list of questions-with-answers give you the information about the project that is part of this course. Underneath, you find the project topic(s) for the current year.

You only really learn something by doing it. That’s why there are many exercises spread across this course. Exercises are well-defined and focus on one particular aspect. This project goes one step further: the task is more open, and many of the things you learn in this course appear together. Moreover, as you will work on the project with a team, you have the opportunity to learn from your team mates. The project will help you a lot mastering this material.

You work on the project as a team, of typically 3 people. We try to mimic to some extent the job circumstances at the companies where you will work later. In your future job, you usually cannot choose the colleagues with whom you will collaborate. Therefore, the team composition will be determined by the instructors. The aim is to compose teams that are as diverse as possible. The more diversity, the larger the opportunities to learn from each other.

If you are a for-credit student at a Flemish university, you can choose your assessment method: either you make a final exam, or you take part in the project. If you choose for the project, then it becomes a mandatory part for you (unless you choose for the final exam, and explicitly take the project as a volunteering task). If you are a volunteering online student, then the choice is up to you: you can choose not to do the project at all, you can work on the project individually, or you can apply to be part of one of the ‘official’ project teams. The latter option is only available if you follow this course in sync with the yearly campus edition. Important: volunteering online students who choose to join an ‘official’ project team must make a strong commitment (and sign a contract) that they will invest enough time in the project and will not drop out early. This would compromise the work of the rest of their team.

If you — as a for-credit student — choose to be assessed based on the project, then you will be graded on the project (see the ECTS file for details). Not all members of the same team get necessarily the same grade: this depends on their individual contribution and delivered effort as well.

Every year, one or more topics are proposed. Each team selects one topic (the same topic can be selected multiple times). If your team has a suggestion for a different topic, you may propose this to the instructors.

  • a paper : to explain your work and results for a specialist audience (e.g. anyone who has a good understanding about the content of this course). Written and formatted as a publication for a scientific journal, written in Latex according to the template of the American Physical Society journals. Recommended length: 2 pages. Maximal length: 4 pages. Your paper will be peer-reviewed by other students in this course.
  • a video : to explain your work and results for a lay audience (e.g. a copy of yourself before you started this course). Delivered as an mp4 file with a maximal duration of 5 minutes. The video should not be a professional product: recording yourself with your phone is good enough. Of course, if you are familiar with video-editing you can apply those skills. Yet, it is not mandatory. Your video will be published at the course site, and will be shown during the last feedback webinar.

See the timeline of the course for the due dates.

Most of the communication of new scientific results happens through peer-reviewed papers. Therefore, it’s definitely useful to practice the skill of communicating your work via a clear, correct, concise and engaging paper. Most scientific journals accept manuscripts in the Latex format, which gives the author full control about text, pictures and references. Nowadays, there are user-friendly cloud services to write Latex documents, offering the templates of many scientific journals. There is a dedicated page in this course that gives you a start on this.

Here is a nice text on how a scientific paper should look like (casually written, yet very much to the point).

Written text has found a competitor in video messages nowadays. Youtube is full of manuals for just about anything (e.g. how to replace the battery of an iPhone 8).  There is a fair chance you will submit your future job applications as a video, not on paper (and if not, your children will). It is useful to practice this skill, to be prepared for the future.

Yes. In order to avoid that problems pile up to an unrepairable mess around the final due date, there are some intermediate moments scheduled where you have to submit the current status of your team. You will get feedback from the instructors on this. See the timeline of the course for these due dates. Of course, feel free to contact the instructors if you have doubts or get stuck at any other moment throughout the project.

Don’t wait, jump ahead. The topics and exercises of the course follow a weekly logical pace. Ideally, you would first study the entire course, and then start the project. That’s not possible, however, in the way the teaching term is currently structured. Therefore, it will probably happen you need something for the project that will be dealt with only later in the course. In such cases, feel free to jump ahead in the course, and learn what you need – it’s no lost work, you’ll gain this back when we’ll reach that point of the course. Or perhaps you get what you need now from looking at the practical instructions on that topic only (section “let’s play”), deferring the explanation about the background until the scheduled week. Try to be flexible – just as will happen when you’ll have to acquire new skills or knowledge in your future jobs.

This is the project topic suggestions for 2023-2024:

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