Term Paper Projects and Oral Presentations

In the interest of students becoming knowledgeable and conversant in an area outside of their field of thesis or other prior research, term papers have been incorporated as part of the Sustainable Energy curriculum. Term papers are intended to be an enjoyable learning experience in which students become familiar with the technical, economic, political, and environmental issues associated with the topic that they are exploring. This is a semester long, individual effort, culminating in the submission and presentation of the student's term paper topic at the end of the semester. As stated in the general information sheet, the term paper and accompanying presentation represent 40% of the final grade for this course. Guidelines for this part of the course are as follows:

Students will pick a topic and submit it to the faculty for review using the Term Paper selection form: (PDF)

Topics should be outside of the student's own area of thesis or prior research.

A list of example topics is attached. (PDF)

Students will work on researching the topic over the course of the semester.

Students will submit a term paper on their topic

  • 20-30 pages in length with short abstract and in referenced research paper format
  • Explore the technical, economic, political, and environmental issues

Students will give a presentation on their topic

  • 30 minutes (including 10 minutes for questions) and should be of professional quality
  • Computer or xerox generated overhead projection viewgraphs should be used
  • Students should display good public speaking and presentation skills
  • Students will be dressed professionally, e.g. coat and tie/dress


R1 Students begin thinking about term paper projects; term paper topic selection sheets are handed out.
TBL4 Last day for students to submit term paper topic selection sheets; students may submit sheets earlier if they have a good idea about what they would like their topic to be. Can submit by e-mail.
L9 Feedback from faculty on term paper topics; students with approved topic begin research; students requiring revision of their topics work with faculty members to suitably define a topic.
L12-L13 1 page outline of term paper/presentation due (meet with advisor prior to one day before)
L31 Term Paper due (1 paper copy + electronic version)
Final Exam Week Term Paper Presentations

Final Presentation and Paper Revision Guidelines

Final presentations for 10.391 will take place during final exam week. You are welcome to attend any presentation that interests you.

The final oral presentation component of the semester is worth 15% of the final grade in the course. Presentation slots are 30 minutes long. Presentations are expected to be

  • 20 minutes total, leaving 10 minutes for questions and set-up/takedown
  • Of professional quality:
    • Computer or overhead projection viewgraphs will be used
    • Students will display good public speaking and presentation skills
    • Students will be dressed professionally, e.g. coat and tie/dress/suit

If you plan to use a computer presentation, please plan to bring your own laptop or borrow one from the libraries.

The version of your paper submitted on L31 will be returned to you in class on 34. You should address the feedback in your presentation.

Presentations will be graded as follows

Clarity and Organization of Presentation 30%
Presentation Materials (Slides, Transparencies, Handouts) 30%
Analysis and Conclusions/Recommendations 30%
Professional Appearance and Manner 10%

Sample Student Presentation Topics

Carbon Sequestration Technologies

Wind Power in France

Diagnostics of Blackouts - Implications for More Robust Grids in the Future

Non-proliferation and Growth of Nuclear Fuels: Iran

Sustainability of Ethanol and Other Biofuels

Sustainable H2 Production from Next Generation Nuclear Plants

Hydrogen - Fuel for the Future?

Role of Microfinancing in Off-grid Development in Poor Areas

Universal Heat Mining


LNG Terminal Siting

Solar Power Satellites

Future Sustainable Suburban Lifestyle?

Wind Projects: Lessons Learned

Concentrating Solar Power

Coal Bed Methane as NG Source

Eco-concrete? Opportunities and Challenges

Turbine Selection Issues for Wind

Sequestration and Impacts on Carbon Trading Markets

Tidal Energy

Future for Next Generation of Nuclear Power Plants

Biomass for Carbon Sequestration

Ethanol Experience in Brazil, US

Green Buildings Unplugged, Ultimate Frontier of Sustainability

Biodiesel as a Commodity

Ethanol Experience in Brazil and US

Tidal Energy Harvesting

Distributed Energy Generation

PURPA and Lessons for the Future

How Much Oil is there?

Future of the Yucca Mountain Repository

Future of Breeder Reactors

Geothermal in Ireland

Opportunities and Barriers for Electric Vehicles

Push-Pull Policies to Promote Renewable Energy

Implementation of co-gen/CHP