The UAP Requirement:
Note that the senior project requirement has been replaced in the new (2016) curricula by the Independent Inquiry (II) requirement. The UAP is required only of students choosing the older curriculum that was approved in 2008.
While an extra CI-M Department Lab will also satisfy this requirement, the simplest way to do it is 6.UAP, a six-unit one term capstone supervised independent project, which is usually done in the senior year, for which the MEng thesis proposal can be used. The only prerequisite is 6.UAT, the six-unit professional technical communications class. Students are encouraged to take 6.UAT earlier than senior year, because it precedes 6.UAP, and 6.UAP may also be completed in the junior or senior year, after 6.UAT. Both of these subjects are graded on a letter-grade, not a Pass/Fail, basis.
The UAP provides an exciting opportunity for students to build on and reinforce their classroom and laboratory learning. It gives students the chance to work both more independently and more directly with a research supervisor on a project demanding intellectual rigor, design and quantitative skills, as well as interpersonal and communication skills.
Using a Third Lab for the UAP Requirement:
Course VI students who have satisfied the Institute Lab (typically with an EECS Intro class) plus the Department Lab and third-year CI-M requirements. may use another department CI-M Lab subject to satisfy the UAP requirement. No substitution or petition process is required.
MEng Students and 6.UAP:
Students completing the old program who have been admitted to the MEng Program must still register for and complete the senior project requirement to receive the S.B. degree and are strongly encouraged to submit for 6.UAP their formal MEng Thesis Proposal instead of a final project report. This is meant to encourage MEng students to find and begin the MEng Thesis early in their senior year, as all the preliminary and background work for the thesis must be completed in order to submit a graded thesis proposal. By starting the MEng Thesis in the senior year students have time to do a more substantial thesis and enhance their likelihood of being funded as Research Assistants, and and of graduating by the end of the fifth year.
MEng students who plan to take more than five years to receive the Bachelors and MEng degrees simultaneously may choose to take 6.UAT as late as the spring term of the senior year and take 6.UAP during the Fall of the first graduate year.
VI-A seniors who are not continuing for MEng through VI-A may use a project from their previous assignment as their UAP. They must still submit a proposal by Add Date of the term when they register for 6.UAP, and submit a final report by the end of the term. VI-A seniors who are continuing for MEng with a VI-A company thesis should use their company MEng thesis proposal if at all possible.
Registration and Grading:
Students register for 6.UAP in one term only, using a registration form or add form. 6.UAP is expected to be a one-term project. Students who do not complete and submit a graded final report to 38-476 will receive the grade of Incomplete. Note that 6.UAP is letter-graded and is exactly six units.
Administration, Forms and Deadlines:
6.UAP is administered by Anne Hunter in the Course VI Undergraduate Office, 38-476. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about this subject. The project proposal and the Independent Project Approval Form are due in 38-476 by Add Date. The Final Report or MEng Thesis Proposal and the Project Completion Form are due in 38-476 by the last day of classes. [See the Undergraduate Forms].
All proposals and final reports are submitted to the Undergraduate Office by the student only *after* they have been approved by the project supervisor. It is important to ask the supervisor well in advance how much time the supervisor will need to review and approve the material. Do not expect the supervisor to forward approved papers to 38-476.
The 6.UAP Proposal:
All students registered for 6.UAP must submit a two-to-three-page project proposal by Add Date. This consists of an Independent Project Approval Form, available in 38-476, with a detailed proposal attached. Even students who are doing an MEng Thesis Proposal for their project must submit these materials by the Add Date. No format is specified for this proposal, but students should consult a technical writing guide like the Mayfield Handbook.
Information about MEng Thesis Proposals may also be useful to those preparing a UAP proposal.
The 6.UAP Final Report:
The Project Completion Form and the final report are due in 38-476 on the last day of classes. The supervisor must already have approved and graded the project, so be sure to submit the report to the supervisor well in advance of this deadline. There is no specific format required for the final report, and no formal title page. Please use the best standards of technical writing as described in technical writing guides like the Mayfield Handbook. Also visit MEng Thesis Proposals for more information.
We provide this statement about the length of the report as a guideline to indicate the scope of the report required, NOT as a page requirement. Most UAP final reports are about twenty pages long, doublespaced, and very few are less than twelve. Most MEng thesis proposals are at least ten pages long.
The Nature of the Undergraduate Advanced Project:
The Advanced Project is a six-unit, autonomous endeavor in which a single student is responsible for proposing, planning, executing and documenting a complete technical project under the guidance of a professor or research staff member. Usually the project involves some aspect of electrical engineering or computer science, or focuses on methods used in EECS. Within this scope, broad opportunities exist for topics.
6-1 students need not do an EE project, nor 6-3 students a CS project. The project cannot be focused in the arts or humanities. The project should use knowledge and skills gained in Course VI required and elective classes, including the mathematics requirement, and be at an advanced, senior level (this doesn't mean you have to be a fourth year student to do a UAP). Simply designing a website is not in itself an acceptable UAP, for example.
While team projects are in principle acceptable, the supervisor must be able to evaluate and grade students separately, and individual reports written independently by each student must be submitted.
Finding a Project:
Course VI students are encouraged to pursue UROPs appropriate to their interests and abilities from the time they enter MIT. While they should not continue with projects they find unsatisfying, it is counterproductive to jump from one UROP to another, as sustained effort and accomplishment is vital. By the beginning of the senior year we hope that Course VI students will have settled on a research group and be ready and equipped to develop a project there.
Thus, many UAPs and MEng theses grow out of a UROP a student did during the junior year or at the beginning of the senior year. The UAP can be the culmination of a project begun under UROP, or a project related to a previous UROP. UAPs can also grow out of a project done for a class, although a class project itself can not be used to satisfy the UAP. Other UAPs can involve the development of a lab project or demo for a class. Finding a UAP or MEng thesis is very similar to finding a UROP and many UROP projects can be scaled up to become appropriate UAPs or even MEng Theses. Check out this site on finding an MEng thesis, and look at recent MEng thesis titles and supervisors.
It's a very good idea to find a project that really interests you and that will develop your technical skills and understanding in a way appropriate to your future plans.
It's not necessary for you to have a very specific idea for your project before you consult with supervisors, who will have their own ideas for projects they're willing to supervise. Searching for a topic is also an excellent way to meet multiple faculty and gain a broader insight into the scope of MIT research.
The UAP Supervisor:
UAPs are normally supervised by a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, or a professor in another department of engineering or science. Senior research staff and some other research staffers may supervise projects. Doctoral graduate students may assist supervisors and be listed as co-supervisors, however UAP students are encouraged to pursue significant contact with the faculty supervisor at every stage of the project, especially on the project design. The project supervisor must have expertise in the technical aspects of the thesis; co-supervisors can generally be arranged when this is not the case. Otherwise a single supervisor is sufficient -- no committee is required.
It's a good idea to ask around and network to find a project supervisor who will take the time to provide you with direction and a challenging but not impossible project. It's also smart to find a supervisor whose style fits yours so that you'll be able to communicate and work productively together. It's worth some due diligence before making a commitment. If difficulties arise with the project supervisor, please seek advice from Anne Hunter.
Projects at Companies or Outside of MIT:
Except through VIA, all UAPs must be done at MIT under the supervision of MIT personnel, not at companies. Companies may approach you to offer you company projects. Once you explain to them that MIT would have rights to the work, they probably won't be interested. MIT does not generally permit non-VIA company theses, even if they were still interested, as it creates enormous problems. Students may do UAPs at the teaching hospitals affiliated with MIT, or at Draper and Lincoln Labs, although they must have supervisors with MIT affiliation (co-supervisors can usually be arranged).
MIT's Policies and Procedures (4.5.2) explicitly prohibits outside professional activities supervised by a student's thesis supervisor, which means that you cannot do your thesis at your MIT supervisor's company.
The Advanced Project and the Communication Requirement:
To satisfy one of the two required Communication-Intensive subjects in the Major (CI-M), Course VI students must complete both 6.UAT and 6.UAP. Students may choose from a substantial list of laboratory and non-laboratory subjects to satisfy the other CI-M.
UROP versus the Undergraduate Advanced Project:
Students often think of the UAP as a UROP. UROP is a specific program where students work for a professor or other researcher, and receive credit or pay for their work through the UROP program. The work may continue for more than one term, and need not be a coherent independent project. The UAP requirement cannot be satisfied by work done through the UROP program. It must be registered for under 6.UAP, and no payment can be received for the UAP.
The Evolution of the Course VI Senior Project:
The Course VI Undergraduate Thesis was replaced by 6.199 Advanced Undergraduate Project (AUP) in 1994 when the MEng Program began. In 2004, with the new MIT Communication Requirement, which replaced the Writing Requirement, 6.199 was replaced by the combination of 6.UAT and 6.UAP. In 2012 we began to accept SuperUROP or a third CI-M lab for 6.UAP. For 2015-2016 SuperUROP satisfied both 6.UAT and 6.UAP. Beginning in 2016-2017 6.UAT is a complete CI-M by itself, and can also be satisfied by 6.UAR.