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Scroll to pg. 2 below for margins, number of pages, typeface, etc.


Each student will be required to write a formal research document:

  • The topic and format will be chosen with the instructor's approval.  
  • The report may cover almost any electronic topic including:
    • inventions
    • inventors (discoverers)
    • an inventor's or invention's social or economic impact
    • scientific method
    • the student's profession/hobby in electronics
      • as it relates to the history and the advancement of electronics, etc.  


Term papers may exist primarily because of the belief that an education is lifelong and that learning is done through compiling and studying new information.  See this page for detailed reasons for requiring a term paper.


Due dates will be presented on the class schedule web page.

  • The Topic Approval Sheet and the Sources Approval Sheet will incur a 5% penalty for each if submitted late.
    • These approval sheets are due at the beginning of class on their respective due dates.
  • All late term papers will be penalized 20%
    • Papers may not be accepted (grade of 0) if more than one week late.
      • "Late" is defined as any paper submitted after the end of class on the due date.
        • "The end of class" is the official, published time that the class ends; or earlier, if the work is finished for that session and all of the on-time students (and the instructor) have left the classroom.
    • All late papers will receive a grade penalty, regardless of the reason or cause.
      • "Emergency travel," "unplanned or unexpected personal or work-related events," "malfunctioning equipment," "I didn't know ..." and all other reasons aren't acceptable.
      • Term papers are not accepted electronically; therefore, submitting an assignment that way does not make it meet the deadline or extend the deadline.
    • Papers, submitted after the preview deadline has passed, are considered "complete" and subsequent additions / changes will not be allowed.
    • Students are encouraged to prepare the term paper early and to submit it early in the semester to preclude any unforeseen delays or assistance issues and to avoid it being late.
      • Leave ample "buffer" time to allow for malfunctioning equipment, sufficient supplies (paper, ink/toner), emergencies, unforeseen changes in home/work schedule, illness or editing and compilation issues.

  • The instructor will PREVIEW THE PAPER, and make suggestions for improvement, if the paper is submitted at least two scheduled sessions before it is due.  Earlier submissions are encouraged.  This opportunity is optional.



  • View the step-by-step help pages on this site.

  • Gain approval for the project by bringing to class two proposed topics, listed by order of preference, on the Topic Approval Sheet.  
    • Refer to the class schedule for the approval due date.  Late submissions will incur a grade penalty. 
    • Approval is required to eliminate duplication and help maintain focus.  It is not a grade guarantee.
    • Students may begin (and probably should begin) writing the term paper immediately after the topic has been approved.

  • The paper must be submitted as a printed document (see format / style below).
    • The paper cannot be submitted in electronic form (no word-processor files, PDF files, e-mail attachments, faxes, etc.); therefore, submitting an assignment electronically does not make it meet the deadline nor does it extend the deadline.
    • Due to the pay to print policy, the paper cannot be printed in the classroom.  

  • To help evoke ideas, there is this list of possible topics

Page 1 of 3


The document must observe the following instructions to receive maximum credit:

  1. The paper's text must be at least 4 full pages to a suggested maximum of 6 full pages.
    • A "full page" must have text extend to all required margins of the page.
      • Margins (blank space) must be exactly 1" on all sides.
    • The cover page, blank page, bibliography page(s) and separate illustration page(s) / attachments do not count for the required minimum report text length.
    • Text pages must not contain the student's name, paper title or any other non-content items.
    • Padding isn't allowed.

  2. The report's text pages (body) must be sequentially numbered (1, 2, 3, etc.).
    • Do not number the title page, blank page or the bibliography page(s).

  3. The paper's content and sequence are as follows:
    • A cover page, which includes:
      • the student's name, the paper's title and the session number (MECH 1)
    • One blank page.
  4. Papers must be:
    • Typed ("word-processed")
    • Double-spaced
      • "Double spaced" means that there should be no extra "carriage returns" (blank lines) between paragraphs.
    • In a single, easily read, twelve-point (12pt.), mixed-case, font (not all caps).

  5. Report pages are to be:
    • Three-hole punched (a punch is in the classroom).
    • Stapled together in the upper left-hand corner (a stapler is in the classroom).
    • Unbound (i.e., not in a folder or binder).  
    • Black, typewritten text on white, 20 to 24-pound bond paper.
      • "Typewritten" usually means "word-processed" or written using a computer.
    • Printed on one side of each sheet.

  6. There must be at least three (3) literature citations (documented information sources).
    • No more than two (2) Internet addresses may be used:
      • Internet sources must be valid academic sites that have .edu, .org, or .gov extensions (unless an online periodicals source is used or the student has prior approval from the instructor).  
    • No "wiki" sources will be allowed.
    • Cited Web addresses must be real.
      • Sites will be randomly checked for authenticity. 
      • The grade will be severely reduced (possibly a zero) for invalid or nonexistent sites. 
    • Cited Web sources must have authors
    • No more than one (1) encyclopedia reference may be used.
    • No more than one (1) living person may be interviewed as a source:
      • Other sources must be attached and cited in order to verify that person's contribution to electronics (company literature, newspaper or magazine articles or advertisements, patents, etc.).
      • The interviewed person cannot be the author of the term paper.
    • Remaining sources may be biographies, autobiographies, periodicals, "who's who" texts and pamphlets.
      • Accessing these sources may require library visits (physically or on-line).
    • All sources must be cited with proper format for scientific writing.
  7. Grammar, spelling and format will be graded!  Double-check the text and the spell checker.

  8. The text must be focused.  Credit may be reduced for extended ("padded") documents.  The work should be interesting but long enough to cover the topic.  Examples of "padding" are listed in the Grading section below.

  9. Illustrations and graphics are not allowed in the text pages (body).
    • Attach illustrations to a separate page inserted after the text pages but before the bibliography.
    • All illustrations (photos, etc.) must be referenced in the text (e.g., "See Fig. 1," etc.) and the source(s) listed in the bibliography.

  10. Pronouns in the paper:
    • First-person pronouns are allowed ("I," "me," "my," "our," "us" and "we"), and may include personal experience only if using such a format avoids vagueness, adds authority and clarity or presents a personal example.  
    • A first-person format is not acceptable if it makes the paper subjective or relates only the author's personal opinion.  Personal opinion should not substitute for facts or be represented as such.  
    • Second-person pronouns ("you," "your" and "yours") are not acceptable.

  11. The text portion of each report must include an:
    • Introduction (including thesis statement)
    • Text pages (body)
    • Summary or Conclusion

Get a PDF of the above list HERE.

Page 2 of 3

  • Download the instructor's grading sheet in PDF format.

  • Grading will be based on a percentage of how the report fulfills the requirements.  
  • Late assignments will receive a reduced grade or may not be accepted (grade of 0).

  • Documents that include or exceed the following points, and do so well, will receive a better grade than those that do not.


    • Why the topic was chosen.
    • The reason why the topic is important to electronics / mechatronics.

    Explanation (body text):

    • The complete explanation of the topic (report's subject).
    • Examples of why the topic was/is important to electronics.
    • How the topic affected and connects to other areas of life such as the economy, health, politics, society, etc.
    • How the topic relates to other inventions, people and/or events in an historical and/or technical timeline.


    • An explanation of what the report accomplished.
    • Answers the questions posed in the introduction (as why the topic was chosen).  
    • Adds a summary of the overall importance of the topic to electronics, life, society, etc.

    Literature cited:

    Length and format

    • Paper is at least 4 full pages, not counting the cover sheet, blank page, illustration page(s) / attachments and bibliography page(s).  See the length requirements in the Format Section above.
    • There is no content "padding" (unfocused text to add pages).
    • There is no format padding ("mechanical" methods to cause the appearance of more text).  Unacceptable padding examples:
      • Larger font than allowed (12pt., mixed-case required).
      • Modifying the required margins (one inch on all page sides is required).
      • Extraneous material, such as class information or illustrations in the text pages.
      • Extra "carriage returns" (blank lines) between paragraphs.
      • Expanded font size for punctuation.
      • Expanded fonts (e.g., Times Newer Roman) or extended word kerning or tracking.
      • Increased line-space leading (leading should be the same as font "point" size).
    • Binding, font, grammar, illustrations, margins, source citing and spelling requirements are to be followed closely.


    • 10 points extra for a topic relating to one of the listed inventions in 2018 or later (not to exceed 100% total).

Page 3 of 3

© 2004  W. Michæl Robinson

"Our style reflects these developments.  We aim for coherence and consistency, but not at the expense of clarity.  As with any aspect of style, it is impossible to be wholly consistent - there are almost always exceptions…."
               Style Guide
               The Guardian (theguardian.com)

"The brick walls are there to stop people who don't want it badly enough."
               Randy Pausch, professor & author
               The Last Lecture
, 9-18-07



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