Table of contents
Part IB lab group registration
Part IB registration is a fully online process accessible between 09:00 on Tue 3 October 2017 to 09:00 on Wed 4 October 2017 or on terminals in the DPO in the afternoon on Tue 3 October 2017 when staff will be on hand to help with any problems. Login to the application is via Raven.
There are two parts to IB registration and it is important that both are completed by 09:00 on Wednesday:
- Students form lab groups: Students choose a lab group from those available on the online form for their College. It does not matter which groups are used, but the pairings must be correct so students need to have have decided on lab group pairings in advance. Students cannot change someone else's entry if they have already signed up for a group, but they can change their own.
- Students record their choice of specialisation for the integrated design project. This information is used to create teams with balanced sets of interests.
- Lab group codes on the online sign-up sheets will be converted into lab group numbers. Unpaired students will be paired up automatically when lab group numbers are assigned. When a College has an odd number of students, a pair will be formed with a student from another College.
- Any student whose details are not entered by 09:00 on Wed 4 October 2017 will be allocated a lab group number automatically.
- Lab group numbers will be displayed online and on boards in the Baker building foyer on the afternoon of Wed 4 October 2017. All students must check these lists before the first lab session at 9am on Thu 5 October 2017.
Part IB coursework & labs overview
Outlines of the Part IB coursework activities and experiments are given below, together with the number of timetabled sessions allocated to them.
Also see the general information about Part I labs & coursework.
An integrated coursework activity links four of the short labs (in vibration, structures, soils and signal processing) together round the common topic of “earthquake-resistant structures”, with students choosing one extension activity to pursue in more depth, leading to a report and presentation.
It consists of:
- an introductory lecture to set the scene and define the problems;
- 4 short experiments in vibrations, soil mechanics, signal processing and structures including a risk assessment;
- an extension exercise, in which you will design and conduct a follow-up to any aspect of the short experiments (taking 1-2 lab sessions);
- a report and short presentation on your extension activity.
The integrated coursework runs over a four-week period, in the term in which you are not doing the IDP. The goals of this lab are to make the coursework open-ended and inter-disciplinary, to relate the labs more closely to Part IA and IB lectures, and to promote teamwork and presentation skills.
The Michaelmas term computing course introduces students to scientific computing, the use of programming and numerical techniques to model, investigate and learn about a technical subject, in this case materials engineering. Students will work in pairs. Support sessions will take place on Mondays to Fridays of weeks 2-8, 2.00-4.00pm in the DPO. Assessment sessions will take place in weeks 3-4, and 6-7. In each assessment session, all lab groups will be allocated a slot for a 15-minute long session. Students will be asked to demonstrate their code and answer a few questions to make sure they understand the course content.
The Lent term computing course introduces students to microprocessor programming using C++ as the primary language.
Integrated design project
Students work in teams of six to design, build and test a mobile robot vehicle as an integrated design project (IDP). Various tasks, typical of those faced by the automated guided vehicles used in modern manufacturing plants, are set for the vehicles. Each team member is individually responsible for a particular sub-system, e.g. structure and drive train, power supply, sensors, electronic control or software integration, as well as contributing to the overall system design and optimisation. The project builds on Part IA teaching in electronics, computing, mechanics and structures, and aims to develop teamwork and communication skills. Students spend three two-hour sessions for four weeks working on this project. The resulting vehicles are tested in a competition to determine the best. Assessment is by quality of the robot vehicle and of team, sub-team and individual reports.
For further details see the IDP website.
In the Michaelmas term, a series of five lectures presents contemporary applications of the different disciplines to sustainable engineering. The lectures are delivered by a mixture of internal and external speakers and provide an opportunity to hear first-hand from some of the most influential workers in the field. Assessment is through a poster on a topic selected by the student, prepared over the Christmas vacation and submitted in electronic format at the start of the Lent term.
For further details see the sustainable engineering syllabus. Coursework instructions will be given during the lecture course.
No. of timetabled 2-hour (morning) lab sessions + afternoons
Michaelmas and Lent
16 plus sign-up for long labs
Poster on 'sustainable engineering'
Aims and purposes of Part IB labs
- To acquire practical skills from using different types of equipment and a variety of measuring techniques and to develop a critical approach to assessing the limitations and accuracy of the methods used.
- To learn to work to a sensible number of significant figures.
- To obtain direct experience of physical phenomena, such as the annealing of a metal or the reflection of an electric wave.
- To learn more deeply by doing. Lab work is designed to reinforce the treatment of topics covered in lectures.
- To foster interest and understanding in the subject through practical work that demonstrates engineering applications.
- To gain experience of situations where practical experiments are better than mathematical methods for solving problems.
- To develop an awareness of the limitations of mathematical modelling by testing the validity of models and the assumptions on which they are based against physical observation and experiment; and to reject unsatisfactory models and assumptions if necessary.
- To acquire presentational skills through practice in (a) recording accurately and in a professional manner observations made in the laboratory and (b) writing concise accounts of what has been observed, the significance of the results and the conclusions that can be drawn.
- To develop skills in organisation and co-operation through working in pairs or in larger groups on a common task to meet a specified deadline.
- To develop an awareness of the safety of the individual and the group through the safe and careful operation of potentially hazardous equipment.
This is a long list of aims to be achieved, and others could be added to it. Remember that departures from expected behaviour can be more interesting and thought-provoking than results that fit the predictions exactly. Experiments are the physical reality: if you find that to within the accuracy of your measurements there are discrepancies within the theory, then it is the theory or more likely the assumptions on which it is based that are wrong. Respect your measurements and remain sceptical about theories until the physical evidence is convincing.
Experiments (Michaelmas/Lent terms)
All students undertake 20 experiments, as listed below. There is a mixture of long and short experiments.
Experiment number and title
Long or short
A1. Dynamic vibration absorber
D1. Rotor dynamics
S1. Plastic collapse
M1. Materials characterisation
S + L
T1. Heat pump
E1. Power amplifier
I1. Spectrum analysis
All the introductory information regarding laboratories, as well as handouts for ALL of the experiments are available on moodle.
It is important that you take the time to read through the documentation on that page and to consult the handout for each experiment PRIOR to the day of the laboratory. Hard copies of handouts will be available in each laboratory.
At your first laboratory, please ensure that you collect the following:
- A copy of the handout for that experiment
- 2 Lab books (one to be used for long experiment lab sessions; the other is for the extended exercise in the integrated coursework.
All lab leaders and technicians have been made aware of this procedure and will have the relevant materials ready for collection.
Part IB Mars Lander feedback session
Some colleges will be arranging small feedback sessions in October for their own students: your Director of Studies will advise. There will also be a catch-all feedback session in the Department on Wednesday 11 October 2017 from 2.00-3.00pm in LT6.
Part IB exchange fair
We currently have student exchange programmes with National University of Singapore (NUS) and CentraleSuperlec Paris (formerly known as Ecole Centrale Paris). Cambridge third year students spend a full year at these institutions, returning to Cambridge for their fourth year. Numbers are strictly limited: this year, two of our students are at NUS and two at Centrale Superlec.
To introduce you to the process and to show you what is on offer, an exchange fair will be held on Friday 17 November 2017. Representatives from each of the exchange programmes will be on hand to discuss any queries you may have. A sandwich lunch will be provided.
Course material on Moodle
Most courses in the department have a page on the University's Virtual Learning Environment Moodle.
These pages are maintained by course lecturers. Students registered to these courses are automatically enrolled at the start of the course and can engage in the course activities, including coursework submission when appropriate.
Other members of the University, staff or students, can self-enroll as observer and gain access to handouts and other documents made available to the students by the lecturers. This access is provided to students so that they can make an informed decision regarding their course selection. There might be copyright restrictions to the course material; any use of the course content that is not related to students education is not allowed. The material should not be redistributed by the students in any circumstances.
A key is needed to self-enroll on any course. By using this key, you indicate that you agree with the condition above.
Enrolment key: cued_moodle_access
NB. If you wish to unenrol yourself from a page that you have enrolled yourself on, please look for the Administration block within the course (usually lower down the page on the left) and click 'unenrol me'.
You may wish to look at our 'getting started' guide.
Last updated on 15/12/2017 13:55
Outlines of the Part IA coursework activities and experiments are given below, together with the number of timetabled sessions allocated to them.
Also see the general information about Part I labs & coursework above.
Part IA coursework starts with an intensive, hands-on activity using Lego Mindstorms. For the first week, students work in groups of three to design and build a simple electro-mechanical device, based around a number of sensors and actuators. The exercise is open-ended and fun, giving an immediate awareness of the integrated nature of real-world engineering, involving software, mechanical and electrical components, teamwork, and communication skills.
There are ten timetabled hours in the lab & coursework schedule, but students may wish to allow extra time during the evenings and weekend. Team allocations will be posted on Moodle on Wednesday 4 October 2017. The Lego lab handout (issued at the introductory lecture) includes instructions on how to sign on to Moodle. All students should do this, and browse the project documentation on the Moodle site, during the afternoon of Wednesday 4 October 2017. All groups present their devices, with prizes for the best systems, demonstrated to the whole year at the end of week 2.
Each timetabled drawing session, both morning and afternoon, begins with a lecture to outline the material that will be covered in the following practical class. The Michaelmas term exercises introduce the basic principles of projection theory. The interpretation and making of mechanical drawings, including CAD, are practised in the Lent and Easter terms.
Students are expected to attend both the lecture and the following practical class. Work set for each drawing classmust be handed in at the end of each session. Students should avoid commitment to other afternoon activities on the one day a fortnight when they are scheduled to attend drawing classes (see the lab & coursework schedules). Supervisions should be timetabled to avoid afternoon lab sessions.
Most of the equipment required for the practical drawing sessions is provided. See additional course costs for details of the drawing equipment that students are expected to have.
The communication of technical information is developed through the exposition course which aims to improve students' presentation, discussion and writing skills. Students' lab reports on the statics experiment are critically reviewed during these sessions. In addition, each student is required to give a short (10-15 minute) talk on technical material and to take part in a debate on a current technical topic, or other appropriate activity. The topics chosen are at the discretion of the group leader. The good practice initiated during the exposition exercises is developed throughout the course, whenever students write laboratory or project reports, essays or give oral presentations on their project work.
Engineer in society, principles of design, product design project and dimensional analysis
Eight lectures are given on the role of the engineer in society, in which the wider issues that influence technical decision making are discussed. Students' assimilation of the lecture material and their reading around the subject is assessed through a report. There are also eight lectures on the principles of design, assessed through the product design project. The principles of dimensional analysis are covered in four lectures at the start of term followed by two experiments (and questions may be set on this topic in the Part IA examinations).
NB. Attendance at all these lectures is necessary for students to complete their coursework satisfactorily.
Computing and microprocessors
The Michaelmas Term part of the course involves 12 activities for self-study, and each activity has exercises to be completed. All the material and documentation for the course will be made available online, through the course Moodle page. Support sessions will take place on Mondays to Fridays of weeks 2-8, 2.00-4.00pm in the DPO. The exercises for at least the first six activities must be completed by week 4 and will be checked at a sign-up assessment session, and the remainder must be completed by the second assessment sign-up session in week 7. In each assessment session, all lab groups will be allocated a slot for a 15-minute long session. Students will be asked to demonstrate their code and answer a few questions to make sure they understand the course content.
The Lent Term activity is a group exercise, with students working in pairs. Each student takes charge of writing part of a software solution. A modular design and unit testing are required to ensure that the two parts work together correctly.
Microprocessors and learning how to program them are introduced through a series of labs in the Easter term.
The computing course is examined in Paper 4 Mathematical Methods. An open-ended long vacation exercise (the “Mars lander”) aims to keep computing skills fresh for Part IB.
Structural design project
Creative thinking and synthesis are fostered in design projects. All students undertake a Structural Design Project. Working in pairs, they design, manufacture and test a metal structure to carry given loads at minimum cost. The structures are tested to destruction in ascending order of 'cost'. After the test, recommendations are made on how the design might be improved. Assessment is by the quality of the tested product, the quality of the drawings and the individual reports.
Integrated electrical project
In the integrated electrical project, students work in pairs to design, build and test an AM radio. This project brings together design software and working with electrical components to integrate many topics in the lecture courses on linear circuits and electronics. The project begins with a timetabled lecture for all students towards the end of Michaelmas term, and has a concentrated period of laboratory activity in the Lent Term.
Product design exercise
The students' assimilation of the material covered in the eight lectures on the principles of design is tested through a product design project where they are asked to design a device to meet a specified need. In addition to a brief report, students present their solutions in person to an audience which includes a designer from industry.
Outline of coursework activities
No. of timetabled 2-hour (morning) lab sessions + afternoons
5 (2 or 3 in afternoons)
Support sessions in the afternoons in weeks 2-8 Assessment sessions in weeks 4 and 7.
Report on 'the engineer in society'
Michaelmas, Lent and Easter
9 + 9 afternoons
Lent and Easter
2 + 1 afternoon
Product design project
Outline of experiments (Lent/Easter terms)
Students undertake 13 experiments during the Lent term and the first three weeks of the Easter term. The topics on which these experiments are based are listed below. Some experiments are 'short'. These straightforward experiments aim to give students experience of important techniques and phenomena. Each task is completed and signed up in the two-hour morning period assigned to it. 'Long' experiments normally require two hours in the laboratory to complete the investigation and record the results, with an extra two hours on writing-up and drawing conclusions, and a subsequent sign-up session.
Experiment number and title
Long or short
1. Kinematics of plane mechanism
2. Gas engine
3. Elastic beams
4. Plasticity and fracture
Electrical and information:
12. Iron-cored transformer