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Sample Projects – Available Projects from previous year (2017/18)



Every year, over 40 open-ended projects are completed by senior UBC Engineering Physics students. Projects come from a variety of sources – UBC Faculty members, industry sponsors, interested off-campus collaborators, and many times the students act as their own project sponsors. Engineering Physics students gain academic credit working on the projects through ENPH 459 or ENPH 479. Students work in groups of 2 or 3 under the direction of the Project Lab faculty and staff, will attempt to solve the problem – students develop a thorough work plan, work on the plan for 4-8 months, and provide the Project Sponsor with physical prototypes, test results, and an analysis of the project’s final results.Have a great project idea? Follow the procedures below:


What kind of projects are suitable for Students?

  • The Project Scope should be appropriate, given the course requirements, time and resources available  Ideal projects should be focused on design, experimentation and analysis – experiences that the students are expected to develop during the projects. Building, designing and characterizing proof-of-concept devices and instruments work well in these courses. All projects must have well-defined project objectives, and be solvable with a realistic effort on the part of the students (generally 100-120 hours per student per term).
  • The Project has a reasonably well-defined set of objectives and deliverables    This can be a functional description of the system, not necessarily stating specifically what technology will be used to solve the problem);
  • Access to Resources   The team will have access access to sufficient technical resources to accomplish the tasks at hand;
  • Project Areas to Avoid  include projects in the critical path of any ongoing work for the Project Sponsor, and projects which inherently lack a quantitative method of measuirng and analyzing performance.
  • Research projects  (e.g. cases where the outcomes are not necessarily known) can be done very well in 459/479 if the focus for the planning and preparation for the project is on the process and equipment and techniques used during the investigation, rather than the outcome of the process. Research-based projects which do not work well are ones where the process, equipment, and techniques are not known or identified by the project group or sponsor prior to starting the project.



How do I submit a Project?

Please forward your project information to the Project Lab Staff for review and posting to students. We will work to refine and revise any project writeups before posting up to students. You can review previous project postings as well as completed project reports to give you an idea of the scope of projects taken on by students. When submitting a project, please provide as much of the following as possible:

  1. Project Title
  2. Contact Information (name/email/phone)
  3. Project Objectives, Background and Scope Describe what you expect the project to achieve, how the project is important to you, why you need the results, and how the project relates to your corporate, academic or extracurricular activities.
  4. Design and Analysis Student groups are expected to demonstrate a high level of design and quantitative analysis – the “Engineering” and the “Physics” for the project. Describe the aspects of your projects which fit into this design.
  5. Resources available Describe lab facilities, technical equipment, etc. which are required to pursue the work, or specific items which the students will have access to through you.
  6. Expected Technical Background Include any specific experiences that the students will be required to possess or learn during the course of the project (experience with specific software/hardware, numerical analysis, etc). This helps students in identifying projects which are the best fits for their previous experience and technical interests. If applicable, include any published information available for students to review as a way to screen for interested, motivated students.
  7. Preference for 4-month or 8-month group
  8. Requirement for any IP / NDA Agreements     Indicate whether you expect any students on your project to agree to an IP / NDA agreement.   UBC guidelines are described in the IP and Project Sponsors link.
  9. Submit the Project! Please email the description to and the project will be reviewed by the Project Lab faculty and staff.



What are the general details for the student projects?

  1. Review previous postings for general formatting Project postings from previous years serve as a good model for the range and variety of projects done by students in the course.
  2. Groups of 2 or 3 students Most groups are self-selected, either 4th or 5th year students.
  3. 4- or 8-month Projects5th year students work during first term (Sept – Dec). 4th year students write proposals during first term and work during second term (Jan-Apr). The same pool of projects posted for both groups of students, but Project Sponsors may specify whether they would prefer a 4-month or 8-month group.
  4. Projects selected by mid-September Projects are selected by students in consultation with Project Lab Staff from the posted list from late August through mid-September. Typically 30-40 projects are chosen from the 60-80 posted projects.
  5. Expect 6-8 hours per week per student This translates to 90-120 hours per 4-month term on the project.
  6. Sponsors should meet with their groups at least every 2 weeks  Most student groups will interact with their sponsors at minumum on a biweekly basis during the duration of the project. As project sponsor, you help guide the work of the student group and to provide resources as required.
  7. Deliverables: Students will produce produce a comprehensive engineering recommendation report submitted to the project sponsor once the report has been evaluated by the Project Lab Staff.
  8. Students have access to prototyping facilities and lab space.Workspace and electronics/mechanical resources are available for the students on campus (Hennnings 115) These resources include student access to our machine shop and prototype facilities, electronics fabrication and test equipment, and computing resources.
  9. Internal budget can cover upto $200There is an internal budget to cover incidental purchases for each project during the term. In most cases, individual major purchases (>$50) will be covered by project sponsors, other incidental costs upto ~$200 is covered by the Project Lab. Larger priced items can sometimes be acquired by the Project Lab as well, if the Project Lab can use the equipment for future projects.
  10. Project Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Issues At all stages, projects sponsors are expected to define any intellectual information which the students must hold confidential. Issues with regards to disclosure of confidential information should be discussed at the start of each project with both the students and Project Lab staff. A more complete discussion of issues regarding IP are laid out by the UBC Industry Liaison Office, described here.
  11. Expectations for the Group The Project Laboratory cannot guarantee that your project will be undertaken until a suitable group of students has been assembled who are willing to carry out the work. Your assistance in making the project description as clear and as attractive as possible will help ensure that the project has a successful outcome.The project is isolated from other activities on your schedule, that it is not on any critical path, and that results from the project should not be expected to follow immediately into other activities.



What can I expect during the term when students are working?

A detailed description of the process, including project selectionstudent reporting during the course, disclosure of information and Intellectual Property are discussed on the page “Project Sponsors – Procedures”.



How do students get approved for Self-Sponsored projects?

Start by discussing the project idea with the Project Lab staff, to get their general impression of the idea.



The next step is to follow with what other Project Sponsors are asked to do: write up your idea in a short proposal (~2 pages), using theInfo for Project Sponsors page andAvailable Projects Postings as guides. The writeup should contain both a general description of the project area/deliverables, as well as a list of references showing the state of the art (publications, commercially-available items, links to videos, etc.)



If you do act as leads on a Self-Sponsored project, it is expected that you will start the project with a level of expertise which is greater than a comparable group working on a similar project but with a Project Sponsor – you won’t have the support and resources available through a Project Sponsor.  



Each self-sponsored group is expected to identify and confirm support from at least two other Project Advisors, who will act to offer technical guidance and external review for the direction chosen by the team, as a Board of Advisors would for a small company.



More detailed info can be found for Self-Sponsored Projects in the ENPH 459/479 FAQ.