Instructor Resources > Project Ideas

Project Ideas

Projects are oftentimes an opportunity for students to integrate various aspect of knowledge - design, theory, fabrication, and applications. It is often conducted by a student team. Here are some suggestions for student projects.

Project 1: Review technology (material, fabrication techniques, manufacturing methods, patents, transducers, etc)

A student or a team of student is to evaluate an emerging technology or an aspect of technology not discussed in detail in the class.  For example, A student team may review a new fabrication technology, a new design trend, a new packaging technology, or an interesting material. This can also be based on a topic discussed in brief in the text - such a project can build a more comprehensive understanding. This review should be based on a combination of exhaustive review of published literatures, online information, patents, books, etc.

A student or a team must first pick a topic.  The team is to generate a report, either in presentation file format (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) or in documents (e.g., Microsoft Words). The report should attempt to address the following aspects:
(1) Theory;
(2) Background, motivation, and history; 
(3) Variables that affect the characteristics and performances; (For example: if the topic is a process, discuss various aspects related to a process; if the topic is a design, discuss how it may affect materials and fabrication).
(4) Advantages, competitions and limitations.
(5) Direction of future work;
(6) Patent positions, companies, cost, technology readiness, real-world realism. 

(Suggestions of processes: through silicon via, stack packaging, three dimensional printing, stealth dicing, ultra lithography, Parylene, deep reactive ion etching, silicon germanium, epitaxial silicon, Bosch process, ICP RIE, encapsulation methods, chip packaging trends, frit glass, wafer bonding, gettering materials, eutectic bonding)
(Suggestions for materials: ultra capacitor, gate oxide technology, hafnium oxide, large wafer, etc)

Project 2: Review literature

A student or a team of student is to read a group of published articles on a certain topic. Compared with Project 1, this project is limited to literature review. The project aims to familiarize a person or a group of individuals about a topic they are interested in - materials, fabrication, design, manufacturing, etc. The project will result in a report, either in presentation file format (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) or in documents (e.g., Microsoft Words). The report should contain information about
(1) Information gathered from 5-10 publications;
(2) Literature citation information;
(3) Major conclusions and findings;
(4) Future directions of continued work.

Project 3: Review application field

A team of student will review an application field.  For example, one may investigate microphones for smart phone and consumer electronics applications. The team is advised to take up the role of an "system application business", not a "technology specialist". The team will identify one application area, and perform deep market, distinction, and competition studies.

Project 4: Review a particular product (device or system level) or a group of products.

A team of students will review a particular product. In some cases, the instructor may decide that the group will study a cluster of similar or competing products. The student group may investigate the following aspects: technology (governing equations, principles, performance, cost, manufacturability, assembly), patents, competing technologies (including non-MEMS), pros and cons of technology, market size, etc.

Project 5: Review company or groups of companies

A team of students will review the business and technology of a given companies. In some cases, the instructor may decide that the group will study a cluster of similar companies. The student group may investigate the following aspects: technology (governing equations, principles, performance, cost, manufacturability), patents, competing technologies (including non-MEMS), pros and cons of technology, business model and approximately profit margin, market size.

Project 6: Fantasy technology entrepreneur

A student team identifies either (1) an existing problem; or (2) an existing technology. The team is to complete thorough investigation of the problem or technology space, and identify areas for developing technology, intellectual property, and business opportunity.

If the team identifies a problem to focus on, the team should investigate:
(1) all possible existing solutions to this problem;
(2) existing players (companies) who are in the position to address this problem;
(3) the accurate problem statement;
(4) is there a disruptive technology that can address the problem that offers a "game changer" solution: better performance, lower cost.

If the team focuses on a technology area, the team is to investigate:
(1) the current literature of this technology;
(2) all possible competing technologies and their relative pros and cons (be absolutely honest);
(3) identify all possible applications of this technology;
(4) identify needs (both consumer or business needs) in both technology and business (financial terms);
(5) identify specifications that this new technology must meet.

Document formats:

Prepare a technical dossier containing a write up (10 page max, single spaced) together with 5 key references. Also prepare a slide show (20 or fewer) to summarize your survey results. The PPT file will be used to present your findings to your classmates. Teachers are to score the projects based on the following criteria:
1. Depth;
2. Breadth and comprehensive coverage;
3. Accuracy;
4. Quality of presentation and teaching.