C.5) Methods And Setup

Assignment: Methods and Setup (G=0.1)

Rewrite your project formulation and add a methods section that you hope will comprise the first few sections of your final report.


Refining the Problem Formulation

Your group will now reconvene and consider the critique of the course instructors to your labs and written problem statement (C.3) and proposal (C.4) to improve the proposed problem statement.

Methods, Means, Sources

You will also survey the various laboratory tools and methods you have learned about in the warmup exercises and preliminary in-class discussions about your specific projects to determine what empirical work is required to accomplish the proposed project. These greater insights and instrumental experiences form the basis for a careful “statement of work:” exactly what empirical inquiry will you perform with the robot?

Data to be Collected and Processed

How will you analyze the data that you collect? What concrete operational plan (calendar of benchmark accomplishments with expected dates) is required to achieve the desired results?

Evaluation Rubric

Revised Problem Statement and Hypothesis

C.5.1) Restatement of Original Problem and Hypothesis

Rewrite your C.3 document in consultation with the EIC fellows and the instructors to improve this next draft. In particular, your next draft should now take the form of an independent, stand-alone document that has a narrative structure – albeit including all of the technical facets and the detailed requirements from the past assignments – mitigating the reader’s effort to understand the material.

C.5.2) Revisions Resulting from Lab/Course Experience

In a new subsection section that concludes the introductory portion of this document, discuss the benefit you have gained from your laboratory and project-oriented work in the class to date.

Which aspects of the lab warmup exercises are most relevant to the experiments you propose to now pursue independently? Which aspects of the class lectures are most relevant to the questions at hand? Which aspects of the in-class discussions of the last week, focused on sharpening the group project statements and this methods document, have indeed achieved their purpose?

C.5.3) Scientific, Mathematical or Statistical Methods

What have you learned about the literature, background mathematics, computational algorithms, statistical analysis, lab equipment, design infrastructure and measurement equipment that modifies your ideas about what should be studied or what you can likely accomplish in the brief period available in the lab the remaining weeks of the semester?

What new mathematical or statistical methods will you need to learn? What are the available sources of materials for self-instruction (or expert consultants)?

Experimental Methods

C.5.4) Details of Setup

What equipment, supplies, materials, and instrumentation will be required to perform this experiment? What code will you need to write and how will it be allocated to the group members and then coordinated?

C.5.5) Sources of Means

Compare the setup you would like with the setup available to you as part of the class laboratory. What aspects of the already available setup present the greatest hurdles and what other sources of equipment, supplies or instrumentation would be better. Where could one procure these, how long would it take, and what budget would be required?

C.5.6) Operational Plan

Present a detailed plan with timetable of experimentation incorporating clear assignments of responsibilities (and deadlines) to individual group members. Incorporate in the schedule of operations some number of “rendezvous” junctures (group meetings) where discrepancies between planned and actual operations can be assessed and handled. Detail how each of the available class sessions will be used, and identify aspects of the work that can be done in parallel by individual group members as "homework" outside class hours.

Data Analysis

C.5.7) Resulting Data Base

Describe in detail the data that will result from the completed experiments and detail the data structures and physical storage media and group access that will be used to keep the data intact and easily available.

C.5.8) Data Processing

Review, reconsider, revise and detail the procedures entailed and measurements resulting from carrying out the experiments and tests anticipated in C.3.5. Describe in detail the computational procedures you will apply to the data to realize these tests (or superior versions of them that you now can better devise).

This step might be purely a careful statistical analysis (need to show sources of methodology and nature of data cleaning and scripting tools required to do so). It might instead take the form of a comparative simulation with rudimentary data cleaning sufficient to allow comparison to experimental outcomes. One or the other aspect of applied mathematics must be represented in the computational step of your methods and setup proposal.

C.5.9) Operational Plan

Present a detailed plan with timetable of data processing and analysis incorporating clear assignments of responsibilities (and deadlines) to individual group members. Once again, incorporate in the schedule of operations some number of “rendezvous” junctures (group meetings) where discrepancies between planned and actual operations can be assessed and handled.



  • Mandatory Consultation with TCP-Fellow: 03/01 – 03/22
  • Submission of Draft to Class Wiki: 03/22


  • TCP fellow scores structure and written clarity of C.5.1 – C.5.8;
  • Lab instructor scores experimental methods C.5.3 – C.5.5 and C.5.6 & C.5.8;
  • Course instructor scores Data Processing section C.5.7.
  • Scored Draft Comments emailed back: 04/03