You will be expected to submit a written midterm report and to give a class presentation on your project progress.

Important dates

Both parts of this assignment (written report and presentation) are lited in Blackboard with due dates:

  • Sunday, Nov. 14 You will be expected to upload your presentation slides to Blackboard. You may submit your slides either as a PowerPoint presentation or as a pdf. All UVM students should have access to PowerPoint. See below for presentation guidelines.
  • Monday, Nov. 15 You will present during class this day. Reports are due in Blackboard by end of day. See below for report guidelines.


You have five minutes to present the current status of your work. I recommend that you limit your presentation to five slides. We do have some slack built into the schedule; I plan to use this to ask questions. Therefore, please be mindful of the time as you present.

The purpose of the presentation is to give you the opportunity to distill your experiences thus far and communicate them with your peers. I hope that by listening to each other talk about their progress and pitfalls, you will each be inspired and see your own work different.

I am looking for the following elements in your presentations:

  1. A description of your project. If it has not changed, this can be a single sentence. If it has changed since the prior presentation, I ask that you describe the changes and why you made them.
  2. A description of work done so far, connecting that work to challenges you've faced and to any findings you can report. Please do try to keep this at a high level. Do not report, e.g., "I downloaded data set X. I ran software package Y," unless these tasks proved to be interesting in some way.
  3. A description of one major problem or challenge you have faced with this project so far. I am specifically looking for reports on novel questions that have arisen as you've engaged with the details of your project more closely.


You should hand in a report that describes your progress and the current status of your project. Reports should be 3-5 (1500-2500 words) of substantive narrative that reflect the actual intellectual work that you've done over the weeks.

I expect the content and length of each report to vary. To best prepare for your report, I recommend keeping a journal of things you've tried, papers you've read, and general thoughts you've had. For example, you may want to set aside an hour each day to enumerate the tasks, log updates, and think more broadly and creatively about the problem space. The point of this exercise is to ensure that you are engaging with your projects deeply and on a regular basis.

Generally speaking, most poeple find it challenging to limit their writing to the prescribed number of pages. If, however, you are struggling to fill pages, please schedule a meeting with me to talk about your project. This is typically a sign that you are simply not considering that the reader (me) doesn't already know all the things you know!

Finally, since this midterm report constitutes something between a retrospective and a revised proposal, it's a good time to reflect on the Heilmeier cactechism:

  • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  • What is new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • Who cares? If you are successful, what difference will it make?
  • What are the risks?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What are the mid-term and final “exams” to check for success?