The purpose of this web page is to provide you with detailed explanations of what is expected in each section of the design document. Please see our specifications web page for pointers to more resources related to the design document.

Executive Summary Problem Design Requirements
Approach Evaluation Summary
Acknowledgements References Appendix

Executive Summary (Length: Exactly One Page)

This is perhaps the single-most important page in your design document. It is exactly one page in length and consists of four parts:

If these examples are not adequate, here are a couple of examples (Deceit, Access) of summaries I have written for research proposals. Hopefully these will give you more perspective on what consistutes a well-written executive summary.

1. Problem (Minimum Length: Two Pages)

In this section, you will define the problem you are addressing, explain its significance, and discuss the impact of your solution (not how you are going to solve the problem, but what will happen if you solve the problem). Start with a general overview, background, etc., and then get progressively more detailed. This section generally consists of four parts: The problem statement, as with all sections of the document (except the summary section), should have inline citations (e.g., "Previous approaches resulted in systems whose power consumption was excessive [23]."). Your problem statement is building upon a vast body of engineering knowledge - most of which you have drawn from other resources which must be cited. For a detailed explanation of citations, including an excellent discussion of why they are necessary, see plagiarism.

2. Design Requirements (Minimum Length: Three Pages)

The Design Requirements section is perhaps the most important section in the design document because it defines the quantitative constraints for your design. Everything we do in senior design is centered around these constraints. A quantitative constraint is one that is stated in terms of a number that can be measured by performing some laboratory test. The Evaluation section of your document will describe the tests used to measure the quantities listed in your design requirements section.

The format for this section is as follows:

Note that the last document does not completely conform to our current formatting specifications because it was generated under a different document formatting requirement.

3. Approach

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References follow an IEEE-style format. A comprehensive guide for references can be found here.


Under Construction

Questions or comments about the material presented here can be directed to