This assignment is an opportunity for you to tell us, in writing, how you are doing on your final project. Put your progress report into the form of a memo.
The example in Figure 13.1 shows the format, but not, we hope, the content of a progress report. The body of the memo was written by William Cohen of China Lake, California, as an example of the many cliches and circumlocutions that appear in technical reports. Translations of the phrases appear in parentheses.
Your audience for this assignment is your instructors, and your purpose is to tell us what progress you've made on the final project. In industry, you will often need to file progress reports with your supervisor. The goal of such progress reports is either
Even a brief, one-page memo requires planning and perhaps a simple outline. Make notes or an outline of all the things that your supervisor (namely us) would want to know. You should include a brief description of the general outline of the report, whether you are writing a proposal, reporting an investigation, writing documentation, or doing a library research project. Next, include the subject and scope of your report, including the major areas your table of contents will cover, and then tell us how you're doing on it. Talk about any research you've done, how the actual writing is going, and any problems you've run into. Don't be afraid to mention problems-there may be something we can help you with. Include any information you find relevant.
For joint projects discuss how the division of the work is working out, if you think changes should be made, and if so, what.
Be sure to tell us, right at the beginning, if you have changed the topic or the scope of your report in any substantial way since we approved your proposal for a final report. These are the kind of changes that we need to know.
Progress reports call for complete honesty. If you have good reason to believe that a project will not be completed on time, say so, and explain what additional resources would be needed to be able to complete it. Your manager may want you to write glowing progress reports, then when the project falls apart, he can point at the reports and say that so far as he knew everything was on track, and that the whole mess is the fault of lying subordinates. Don't get stuck with the blame!
Even when routine progress reports are not required, you may want to write one when a project is going badly, to inform management of a problem. There is always some risk in being the bearer of bad news, as the managers will start looking for someone to blame long before they start looking for a solution.
Sometimes you will be asked, with more or less subtlety, to aid in a deception--to make things look better either to higher management or to a customer. Resist such requests! A firm ``I can't do that, it would be dishonest'' is often all it takes to avoid some very messy situations. As an honest, competent engineer, you are far more employable than the dishonest managers who would ask you to compromise your principles--if they insist, you can walk away from the job, writing a letter to higher management explaining why you cannot work for the company any more.
It is much easier to resist pressure if you have enough money in the bank to live for six months without a job. Build up that cushion before you buy a new car, a new stereo, or a new house. Even if you never have to quit for ethical reasons, layoffs are common in the computer and electronics industry. Usually you can get re-hired somewhere else fairly soon, but having some money in the bank allows you to pick your job a bit more carefully.
Huckin and Olsen also have some mention of ethical issues for engineers [HO91, Chapter 2].
The next section includes the 1979 text of the IEEE Code of Ethics for electrical engineers. The Code was revised recently, mainly in attempts to strengthen the wording about engineers' responsibility to society (see Section 13.4.3). Other than some rather obvious self-serving provisions, the 1979 code is still a pretty good one. We will discuss aspects of the code in class--please read it carefully to identify parts that you disagree with, that are open to misinterpretation, or that emphasize one aspect of integrity at the expense of another.
The Board of Directors of the IEEE approved a new code of ethics at their August 1990 meeting [IEE90], to replace the rather wordy 1979 one. Note how the writing style has changed, and how much terser and crisper the new code is.
We, the members of IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, its members and the communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to conduct of the highest ethical and professional conduct and agree
The progress report is short enough that we do not expect you to take several days preparing it. Because the progress report has significant time value (we want to know the current progress-not last week's), we do not ask that you bring in a draft for comments before turning in the final memo.
Please use standard memo format [HO91, Chapter 13].
Don't forget to tell us the title of your project, preferably in the ``Subject'' field at the beginning of the memo--we can't remember exactly what everyone is doing!