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Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering

EN49X: Naval Engineering Research Design Project


EN49X: Naval Engineering Research Design Project (EN495/EN496) (0-6-3)

A one semester independent research course. EN495 and EN496 can be taken consecutively to produce a two-semester research project. The entirety of the course is independent research conducted by the student on an engineering topic of their choice, under the advisement of a faculty member.

EN495/EN496 GOALS:

  1. Identify research goals and create a project timeline.
  2. Develop research skills by interaction with faculty mentors.
  3. Conduct meaningful engineering research that includes design and completion of an experiment or simulation, quantifiable results, analysis of results, conclusions, and recommendations for future work.
  4. Produce a professional presentation of research, including a written report submitted to the NAOE Department and a poster presented orally during an open session.


  • Midshipman Research Project Proposal Form PDF, MS Word
  • Cover Page Memo for Routing Proposal PDF, MS Word
  • Optional EN49X final report cover page -- formatted so that title aligns with E&W Tech Report "punch out" opening


The most important prerequisite for registration for an independent research project is the development of a feasible and worthy research project.  Consult and work directly with a NAOE faculty member to develop a proposal.  Other prerequisites for registration for a EN49X project include:

  • 2/C Standing as an ENM or EOE Major
  • Major QPR 3.0 (Or Above)
  • Approval of proposal by Department Chair through chain of command. [See proposal form links above.  Use the cover letter memo to route memo for the necessary signatures.]
  • See Provost Instruction 1531.79 and NA&OE Instruction 1531.36C for more details.

Requirements of Midshipmen who choose to enroll in EN49x

  • Review the Course Policy Statement
  • Before the end of the semester preceding the project, a midshipman must work with a NA/OE faculty member to complete a proposal form and submit it to the chain of command for approval. (Download the form above.  Also use the routing memo to send proposal through the proper chain of command.)
  • During the semester of the research project, the student should have regular meetings with his/her project advisor.  Requirements for 6-week and 12-week marking periods may vary, but typically include completion and submission of a progress report.
  • At the end of the semester, each student must make an oral presentation to the department and submit a written report.


Why do independent research? How will it benefit me?
Independent research is a great opportunity for students interested in pursuing a special project outside of a normal classroom setting. Independent research greatly benefits students in numerous ways. There are no formal classes, no lectures, no daily homework, no exams, just you doing a project that you are interested in. Students who have performed independent research may also be more attractive candidates for graduate school and other post-USNA opportunities.
What are the requirements for enrollment? Is there a minimum QPR?
The requirements are simple: You must have a good project outlined with a faculty advisor and you must be a good student capable of working independently. The recommended minimum QPR for the NA&OE department is 3.0. Some waivers have been approved in the past.
How do I get started?
Talk to any faculty member and let him/her know that you want to do independent research. Depending on what type of project you are interested in, he/she may direct you to someone who has interests more in line with what you want to do.
What forms need to be filled out? How do I get them?
You must submit a proposal form which must be signed by your research advisor, your academic advisor, and the research program coordinator. If you require use of any laboratory or special facility, you must also have a brief memo of support from the manager(s) of the relevant facility(ies).
What happens during the semester? Who's in charge? What will I have to do?
It is recommended that each independent research student meet with his/her advisor weekly at regularly scheduled times. You and your advisor should work together to establish a reasonable scope, timeline and deadlines for your project throughout the semester. Typically, each independent research student meets weekly at a particular time with his/her advisor. If you have any communication difficulties with your advisor, the research program coordinator can assist in helping to resolve problems.
How much time do students spend on their research projects?
Independent research courses (EN495 / EN496) are 3-credit courses. Therefore, it is expected that you spend approximately the same amount of time performing research as you would in a majors elective course. On average, this means 6-9 hours per week.
Is there a final exam?
Most project advisors do not administer a final exam or any other exam during the semester. However, at the end of the semester, research students must make a brief presentation about their projects. These presentations usually take place during the first day or so of final exams.
How is my grade determined?
Your research project advisor (RPA) determines your grade. If you have performed laboratory work, feedback from laboratory staff may factor into your grade. Typically, most well-motivated, conscientious students receive "A's."
What happens if I have trouble during the semester -- e.g., my experiment doesn't work, my equipment breaks or something even worse? Will I fail? Will I graduate?
Experimental difficulties during research happen more often than most students realize. However, just because the project does not proceed as originally planned, does not mean that you will fail the course -- typically an alternate "plan of action" is developed in coordination with your research advisor, and everyone learns from the experience.
Are there any additional incentives?
Again, independent research is usually a remarkably rewarding experience for the student. Graduate schools, scholarship committees and outside employers often weight independent research experience very highly in their assessments of candidates.
Other Resources
Glossary: ACA - Academic Advisor, RPA - Research Project Advisor, RPC - Research Program Coordinator.

Checklist Semester prior to research project:
Meet with a faculty member to discuss research ideas
Develop proposal
Consult with any lab or shop staff / obtain letters of support
Submit proposal and supporting info to RPC during semester prior to research

Checklist Semester of research project:
Establish timeline and milestones for semester
Conduct research - maintain weekly meeting times with your RPA to stay on track
Complete report at the end of the semester
Make 15-20 minute presentation to NA&OE department at the end of the semester

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