Technical Report 2: Buy or Lease Summer 2014

CEE 300 Technical Report 2


In this assignment, you will complete a technical report about the financial consequences of buying or leasing a car or solar panels. Your choices for this buy or lease technical report are VW Passat, SolarCity solar panels, or a Tesla. A recommendation must be made to the reader based on a scenario or scenarios that you create and analyze regarding whether it is a better decision to lease or buy.

There are going to be things that your audience knows and/or does not know about cars and solar panels, and as a writer, it is your responsibility to determine or approximate what your audience’s information needs are regarding the choice —“What does my audience need to know in order to understand the choice as well as to take a recommend course of action?”

Using the above question as your initial guide, you will design and write your report in a manner that facilitates decision-making and subsequent action. Accordingly, when writing the technical report you are to imagine that you are opening or beginning a conversation about the financial implications of the option you selected and how those implications affect future action.

Qualities of Effective Reports

Your reports are meant not only to demonstrate mastery of the concepts we’ve been learning in class but also to give you an opportunity to work on your writing.  With that in mind, we have identified five qualities we are looking for in the technical reports that generally are signs or markers of an outstanding report.  In each of these qualities, different conative strengths are represented, both in the process and in the result.  Some associated conative strengths are listed under each quality.  Your team may not possess all of these strengths, but the tasks they are associated with are still expected to be done.

  • Demonstrates knowledge of engineering economics.  For example, you should demonstrate that you can make a cash flow diagram, calculate net present value, including sample calculations, and perform a sensitivity analysis. In addition, you should demonstrate you understand depreciation and the tax implications of the problem.
  • Communicates clearly and effectively in a concise but thorough and organized manner.  Communication involves more than your writing style—it is also based on the way you present your arguments, data, and visuals.  Put another way, the organization of your report and its overall visual appeal are just as important as the words you “write” in your reports. For example, graphs included in your report should not only have proper units, labels, title, legend, and use of color and/or contrast, but should also serve to illustrate (or argue) your point in a convincing way, without resorting to tricks involving scale or units.
  • Shows evidence that the writers are attuned – they understand the meaning behind what they are saying and the needs of the reader.  Reports should show that the writers have done background investigation into the question being addressed. In addition, reports should show that writers understand both the complexity of the problems involved in making recommendations for action as well as an appreciation for how their audience may respond to the recommendations (positively or negatively). Part of being attuned is understanding the ethical implications of the decisions available and the recommendation provided, and fulfilling your obligation to uphold the code of ethics for professional engineers.
  • Enables action.  This underscores the point that your report should make a definite recommendation for the situation(s) you have defined.  Also, the arguments and calculations made throughout your report should be easy to understand or explained sufficiently so that the reader understands not just what recommendations you have made, but why you made them.
  • Treats the rubric as more than a checklist and goes beyond the listed requirements.  Here is where you can get points for something surprising or exceptional.  Extra effort can be rewarded.

Please note the above qualities do not have pre-determined weights assigned to them but instead will be based upon how well your teams demonstrate their understanding and application of them.  For example, some teams may be more skilled in communication than facilitating decision making.  For them, communication will be weighted more heavily than category facilitating decision making.

Report Structure

Remember that your reports are supposed to follow a certain structure and include at least the following sections:

  • Executive summary (less than one page)
  • Introduction (including background material on technologies and problem statement)
  • Investigative method
  • Results and discussion (including sample calculations, sensitivity analyses, and graphical representation of the comparison)
  • Recommendations
  • References Cited

Due Date

“Buy or Lease” assigned on 7-25-2014. Tech Report 2 Due Friday 8/1/2014 at 11:59PM to CritViz. CritViz Peer Review of Tech Reports due Tuesday 8/5/2014 at 11:59M. Perform four crits – one for each section reviewed.

Note: Every student in every group is required to upload the final document their group created to CritViz. It is not sufficient to have one group member upload for the entire group.

Submission via e-mail will not be accepted. 

Grading Rubric

The “Qualities of Effective Reports” outlined above will be used to determine your grade. As a reminder, these include:

  • Demonstrates understanding of engineering economics
  • Attuned to the reader and the subject discussed
  • Actionable based on the quality of the arguments made and the final recommendation
  • Concise and thorough
  • Goes beyond the requirements of the assignment

Each category will be scored out of 100%. These scores will then be weighted in descending order from the highest to lowest score. The weights used are .3, .25, .2, .15, and .1. Weighted scores will then be added together to form your grade out of 100. An example is provided below.

  • Understanding of engineering economics: 90% Weight is .3
  • Attuned to the reader and the subject discussed: 80%
  • Actionable based on the quality of the arguments made and the final recommendation: 90%
  • Concise and thorough: 85%
  • Goes beyond the requirements of the assignment: 80%

In this example, the final grade would be 86.5%


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