Grading Policy

Grades are computed by averaging performance on problem sets and term projects, weighted 60/40.

Term projects (40%)

Each student must do a term project. Proposals are due by the end of the third week of class. The proposal should be a page or less. It should clearly describe what the student intends to do. Students should expect to spend from 20 to 40 hours on the project. Term project reports will be due the next to last week of the term. Projects may be a small manipulation problem to which you will apply some techniques learned in class, some extension or variation of a technique learned in class, or a review of a research paper related to the class material.

Experimental projects are encouraged, using any equipment to which you have access. Experimental projects can be time-consuming, and if you choose this option the 20-40 hour guideline above does not apply.

Team projects, with teams of two or three students, are also fine.

Your project may be related to your outside research project or another class project, but clearly separate from it.

How do you find a good topic? Life is full of manipulation problems, most of which have never been studied. Or if you want to view locomotion as auto-manipulation, you can study a locomotion problem. Cooking, cleaning, origami are all sources of numerous different manipulation techniques. Games are also good sources. Paper football, tiddly-winks, curling, bowling, shuffleboard, horseshoes, eraser wars, are all manipulation problems in competitive settings. Every such application gives rise to numerous little research problems, when you look at it carefully enough.

If you have some ideas but could use some help focusing on a clearly defined manageable problem, I'd be glad to discuss it with you.