Engineering Practice Requirement Essay (EPR1)

The GEL1 EPR Essay assignment celebrates GELs’ experiences on engineering projects. It is a writing assignment that:

  • Prompts GELs to engage in a realistic team-based engineering project (or, to identify one from their recent past)
  • Elicits reflection upon their experiences on the project, and
  • Introduces them to an engineering Project Post-Mortem report format – they’ll be diagnosing what worked well, and what didn’t work well during the project, specifically considering teamwork and leadership factors.
  • Students will then provide recommendations for how the project could be run more effectively next time.

By realistic, it is meant that the selected project should be of sufficient scale and level of completeness that the student’s experience approximates an authentic engineering process of conceiving, designing, implementing and operating a product (or, processes, material, molecule, software, service or system!).

GELs will either reflect and write a Post-Mortem on an upcoming engineering project they plan to participate in during GEL Year 1, or they may choose to reflect on a project from the recent past (completed no earlier than the spring or summer prior to their joining GEL). See further guidelines below on project selection and timing.

EPR Essay Deliverables

1. EPR Sign-Up

​GELs will register their EPR project topic and choose the GEL Year 1 semester (Fall or Spring) in which they’ll deliver the essay. The brief sign-up form will be provided in EL class (6.912/16.651) and is due early in the Fall semester. Topic sign-up must include:

  • A one-paragraph project description and explanation of how their selected project is an “engineering project” with a “realistic scale.” Examples of acceptable and unacceptable project topics are available for reference here.
  • A choice of semester, Fall or Spring, in which they’ll commit to submitting their Project Post-Mortem essay. Fall and Spring term due date slots are limited to approximately half of the GEL class per term – slots are available first-come/first-serve in the order in which students sign up!
If a GEL chooses to reflect on a project from the recent past, they must sign up to deliver their Post-Mortem essay in the Fall term. Otherwise, students may select either term and are expected to write a Post-Mortem essay on an upcoming project that will reach completion or be very near completion by the time the Post-Mortem is submitted.
All GELs should be able to identify a suitable project for their EPR Essay – while we prefer students to select their own unique project based on their areas of interest and involvement (i.e., student project teams, jobs/internships, other MIT classes, etc.), as a backup plan, any GEL may choose to use their EID (Engineering Innovation & Design) team project as their EPR Essay topic.

The EPR Sign-Up form will be reviewed and approved by the GEL Staff before the student writes or submits the Post-Mortem essay.

2. The Post-Mortem Essay

Generating a Project Post-Mortem is a common industry practice involving reflection and assessment of what went well and what did not go well during a project while providing recommendations for the future. It’s a mechanism for capturing and conveying lessons-learned so that subsequent projects run more effectively than past ones. In GEL Year 1, the goal of this assignment is similar to that of a traditional Post-Mortem – if you pause and reflect, what can you take away from your involvement in an engineering project that will make you even more effective at leading your next project?

Once GELs have identified and received approval for their project topics (i.e., the EPR Sign-Up), they’ll write and submit a project Post-Mortem essay as part of EL class that includes the following:

  • Thoughtful reflection and discussion that addresses the topics outlined in the EPR Essay Post-Mortem Rubric
  • Approximately 5-7 pages (1500-2100 words) of written text 

Students will be graded according to completeness (i.e., coverage of the topics in the rubric), but more importantly, on the quality and depth of their analysis of what went well and what did not go well on their project. A successful Post-Mortem essay will synthesize key lessons-learned from the reflective analysis of the project experience.