In 2018 we’re returning to West Africa, but this time the project we’ll complete at our workshops won’t be a surprise – you’ll know it because it will be a project proposed by one of the current members of FSE! We know you all have great ideas, and we can’t do all the projects, so only one project will be chosen. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to write your proposal with a good chance of being chosen for FSE 2018.

Submission details

Proposals must be received by the FSE Europe team by 1 March 2018. You can turn them in by saving it somewhere online and sharing the link with us (e.g. GitHub, Google Docs, Dropbox, FTP server, utorrent – it’s up to you). You can also send the file directly if that’s more convenient for you. Your submission can be via email, WhatsApp, or our contact page.

The proposal can be written by anybody, and you can submit as many proposals as you want. Teams are encouraged! If you know other students who have good ideas, cooperate with them to make a proposal even better than what you could do alone. If you have lots of ideas, you can also submit more than one proposal. For example, if Carmen, Frederic and Daniel have a great idea that they can all contribute to, they can submit a proposal together. However, if Carmen has an idea that Frederic and Daniel aren’t interested in, she can also submit a proposal for that idea as well – that’s fine.

We will give you feedback on your submission. That means, listed in order of increasing complication: if it’s a Google Doc, we need permission to comment on the document – we’ll give you our feedback that way in real time. If it’s a Markdown or LaTeX file on GitHub, we’ll clone it, make comments and send you a pull request. If it’s a LibreOffice or Microsoft Word file, we’ll make comments and send the file back. If it’s a PDF, we’ll comment on it with a special program, or print it, comment by hand, scan it, and send you our comments as a new PDF.

The winning proposal will be announced on 1 April 2018. After that we’ll start our development schedule so that we can do the project toward the end of the year with you in Accra and Lomé.

If your proposal wins, we will involve you in the development. The more you’re involved, the more you learn. This means you’ll be working on it together with us, and you’ll have a big role in designing the project.

How we’ll pick the winning submission

Submissions will be rated based on the following criteria:

  1. Benefit. Whom does this project help? In what way? The more people it helps – and the better it is for them – the more points the proposal receives.
  2. Creativity. Does the project accomplish something that’s never been done before? Does it approach a problem in a new way? If so, the proposal receives more points.
  3. Cost. What components are needed in order to complete the project? If they are expensive, they will have to be acquired, which makes it harder to complete the project. This means that the project will receive fewer points. Note that if you can reuse something which you already have – for example, the Raspberry Pis and sensors we left at each school in 2017 – you can subtract these components from the price.
  4. Effort. How complex is the project? The more complex it is, the more difficult it is to complete, meaning that the proposal will receive fewer points. Note here that the more disciplines you include in a proposal, the more effort is required. For example, if you are building something which requires wiring (electrical engineering) with programming a microcontroller (software engineering) and moving parts (mechanical engineering), it will be more difficult.

In short, benefit and creativity add points to your proposal, while cost and effort subtract points.

What to include in your proposal

Your proposal should have a name and a short summary. It should detail the benefit of the proposal clearly, as well as demonstrating why it is creative. It should also contain a sum of all costs for producing the project you are proposing, as well as a work plan. The work plan should clearly state how many person-days you think are necessary to invest in developing the project.

You are free to structure your proposal however you like, but it may be easier to use a template. We’ve provided one which you can copy and use directly, or modify to fit your needs. You can download it or work with it directly in Google Docs at this link.

In case you’re looking for inspiration for a project, here are the ideas we discussed in Accra and Lomé, 2017: