Meetings and Progress Reports

We use periodic meetings (typically weekly) to keep track of the progress to date and then adjust the remaining plan as needed. The plan may be adjusted both due to time issues (delays or advances) as well as newly learned material (e.g. tool problems).

Meetings can contain topics from various categories:

At least 24 hours before the meeting you will need to submit a progress report to your adviser (and your team members). In this report, you will identify the following

  1. Current progress on project: tasks completed, tasks under way.
  2. Technical content of tasks completed or under way (for working meetings): by presenting this work, the rest of the team stays up to date with the latest results.
  3. Tasks to complete before next meeting.
  4. Issues that will obstruct current or upcoming tasks: anticipated problems, software or hardware needed, etc. Be sure to include sufficient background information so that other team members can offer practical solutions. The report must be submitted well before the meeting to allow the other members to find solutions.
  5. Metrics on completed tasks: actual hours needed to perform task (with breakdown), areas which deviate from estimates, causes of deviation. This enables you to improve estimates for future tasks to make them more accurate.
This report must be in a PDF format. (I would suggest PowerPoint or so to create it so that you may include figures and reuse it for presentations.) Depending upon the type of meeting, you might give a presentation, or else merely discuss issues. I may grade your report in the following categories. I may also ask all team members to grade their colleagues' reports. The reason is to provide feedback for how to improve it.
  1. Conciseness - get to the point as quickly as possible, but no quicker. Use diagrams when useful.
  2. Background - provide enough context for everyone in the meeting to understand the issues.
  3. Delivery (for oral presentations) - speak clearly, let us know you care about the material and are proud of your presentation.
  4. Appearance - make the report look good. Structure the report well, use white space appropriately, use color to simplify the interpretation of data or diagrams.
  5. Relevance - leave out things which don't matter.

Meetings and reports are structured this way to help you work more efficiently, learn how to monitor your performance, develop more efficient working methods and estimation skills, improve your communication skills - in short, to make you a more effective engineer and to get you promoted faster after you start working in industry.

Thanks to Alex Dean for these guidelines.