The BYU Honors Program for Electrical and Computer Engineering Students
The BYU Honors program enriches the University's educational program by providing Honors courses, a community of Honors students, and opportunities for mentored research and scholarship.
Students can graduate with University Honors by:
- Taking courses in the Honors curriculum
- Completing an Honors Great Works requirement
- Completing the Honors math & foreign language requirement
- Completing the Honors service requirement
- Graduate with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5
- Completing an Honors thesis
A complete list of requirements is available at honors.byu.edu.
Completing an Honors Thesis in Electrical and Computer Engineering
The BYU Department of Electrical and Computer Enginering is one of the leaders across the BYU campus in world-class research. Faculty and students regularly publish papers in prestigious academic journals, participate in highly selective technical conferences, and receive substantial research funding every year from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies and organizations. This makes the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering a rich source of research opportunities and topics for an outstanding Honors thesis.
The Honors@ece program provides support to students in the Honors Program and who wish to complete an Honors thesis. Honors@ece can help to connect students with others interested in a particular research area and with faculty who have research topics for undergraduates.
One of the requirements to graduate from BYU with University Honors is the completion of an Honors thesis. The thesis is a culminating project based on original research and creative work. The benefits of completing an Honors thesis are substantial. Expectations are high, both in the quality of the work and the quality of the writing. While the thesis requires additional work, students can in many cases work on the project topic as an undergraduate research assistant position in one of the department's research groups and the thesis can be completed while enrolled in the Senior Team Design Project class (ECEn 490).
An Honors thesis is a scholarly document that describes original and innovative work that contributes to knowledge within a given field. In engineering, a thesis often suggests a new solution to a problem of interest and present evidence of advantages offered by the new approach. The Honors thesis is similar to a Masters thesis, but with reduced scope. The work described should employ credible methodology, be thorough in its approach, and rigorous in its analysis. The thesis itself should be of publishable quality. Hard length requirements do not exist, but ECE honors theses are generally between 40 and 60 pages, including appendices. The thesis is to be written in a style consistent with academic publications.
The Honors thesis is to represent the best of undergraduate research and writing at BYU, and neither the research nor the writing can be completed in the last few weeks before the deadline. Quality research requires an iterative cycle of planning, execution, and thoughtful analysis. Similarly, good writing requires feedback and careful revisions.
At least three semesters before graduation, you should know the general area in which you plan to complete your thesis research. Generally, department faculty are the best source of research topics. It is your responsibility to find a faculty member in the department with the necessary expertise who agrees to serve as your advisor for your research project. Honors@ece can assist with finding a topic. Working with your advisor, you must carefully define the scope of your thesis topic and begin work on the project.
At least two semesters before graduation, you should write and submit a formal Honors thesis proposal. The proposal is reviewed first by your advisor, then by the ECE Honors coordinator and a representative of the BYU Honors program. Your proposal should persuade the readers that the work has merit, that your methodology is appropriate, and that you have the skills and resources to complete the proposed work. Do not wait until the research is completed to begin writing. Include time in your regular schedule to conduct the research and to write the thesis so you make consistent progress. If your work is connected to an existing research program, attend research meetings, share your ideas, and ask for feedback from faculty members and other students. Although the thesis should report your own work, collaborative research with a research group is important and strongly encouraged.
Near the beginning of the semester you graduate, you must defend your thesis to a committee consisting of your advisor, the referee (another faculty member with appropriate technical expertise that you and your advisor select), and a representative of the Honors program. In your defense, you will present your work and the committee will ask questions about your project and your Honors portfolio. To schedule the defense, these steps are required:
- At least two months prior to the date you plan to defend, provide an initial draft of your thesis to your advisor. Incorporate feedback and iterate with your advisor until he or she approves the entire thesis in its current form.
- At least one month before your defense, give a copy of your final thesis draft to your advisor, the referee, and the Honors Advisement Center.
- One week after submitting the final draft, coordinate with faculty participants and the Honors Advisement Center to schedule your thesis defense.
Consult the BYU Honors program office or visit honors.byu.edu for additional details on requirements and deadlines.
Undergraduate Research and the Senior Team Design Project
Ideally, an Honors thesis project is completed in conjunction with an undergraduate research assistant position, the Senior Team Design Project, or both. The goals of the Honors thesis and the Senior Project are related but not identical. The Honors thesis should focus on new research contributions, and the Senior Project must include a culminating design experience and participation on a team. Since most research projects include a design element, in many cases the faculty advisor can align the Honors thesis and Senior project to meet both sets of goals.