Technical Review

Last updated: Oct 22, 2020 at 1:39pm


The goal of the technical review is to inform instructors about the state of your functional, final prototype and to obtain critical feedback. This feedback will help you prioritize improvements for the final presentation. The review will help you practice how to factually present a product prototype to colleagues in a professional working context and obtain design feedback.

The review will be held during class, as indicated in the class schedule. Examples from prior technical reviews are on the right. You can also view projects from other years in the gallery (select a project and the click on the technical review tab). The communication instructors have also prepared helpful annotated videos on presentation structure and terminology.


Each team is working on completing a fully functional prototype for the technical review. All technical features of the product should be working and testable by users by this point in the design process. To reach the end goal, it is important to tackle the most difficult technical challenges early on so that there is time to try multiple approaches. Different technical challenges may be worked on by different task forces simultaneously. Aim to have all of the technical challenges worked out at least a week and a half before the technical review to leave time for integration of the components and the resulting debugging of the completed system.

The review is an informal, interactive prototype demonstration. Think of it as a mostly show (demonstration), not tell, presentation. Be ready to have reviewers using your prototype.

This year's review will be conducted in two parts. In Part I, each team will have 2 minutes to present information about their product, including the product specification/contract updated user persona, and use storyboards. In Part II, each team will be demonstrating their products to rotating review teams.

The review format involves groups of instructors rotating through the teams. There are six 15 minute review periods. Each team will demonstrate for a review group for 15 minutes, have 15 minutes off, and then demonstrate again to a different group of instructors. In total, each team will have three 15 minute demonstration/review sessions.

Prepare and practice a 5 minute demonstration of your prototype. This demonstration is a good way to start each of your 15 minute review periods. The rest of the review period will involve the reviewers trying out the prototype and Q&A between the team and reviewers. Not only will the reviewers be asking you questions, but you may ask the reviewers questions, too! This is a good opportunity to get suggestions for any remaining technical issues that you may be having.

During one of your "off periods", your team will be asked to give the 5 minute demonstration to be recorded for the course website. The video will be used for reference when instructors and mentors write feedback for your team. Focus the demonstration on explaining and demonstrating your product. Be sure to review the videos from the communications instructors referenced in the Background section above.

The review contributes to a portion of your shared team-wide grade and all course instructors will participate in the review process. In order to receive the the team grade for this milestone, you need to meaningfully contribute to the team's effort for this milestone.

This is a technical design review, so important aspects that will be considered include:

  • Mechanical design details
  • Human factors/form/aesthetics
  • System integration
  • Details/prototype execution/manufacturing
  • Performance quality/safety/reliability

In addition to a demonstrable prototype and prepared 5-minute presentation, you will also need to submit an updated product contract.

Instructors will attend the review and will meet immediately following to discuss each prototype, but your team instructors will determine your final grade.

Pre-review logistics

If a special arrangements are needed to demonstrate your prototype, please let the course instructor know no later than Tuesday evening before the review.

You should have a large 24" x 36" poster (portrait or landscape is fine) that clearly highlights critical functional specifications (from your product contract). Using the dashboard, you will be submitting your updated product contracts by 8pm on Thursday to be plotted on Thursday evening before the review.

Each team will need to sign up for a Friday time slot to upload your 2-minute presentation slides onto the presentation computer.

Be prepared to let the reviewers use your prototype. During the review, your team will also be asked to give a 5 minute demonstration to be recorded for the website. Your team should plan and practice this demonstration in advance of the review.

Review Logistics

The review will be in 10-250 from 3-5PM on the date indicated in the course schedule.

Instructors will divide into 3 review groups. Every 15 minutes the review groups will switch to a different project team, according to the schedule which will be provided here on the week of the review. The rotation is structured so that you will have 15 minutes on, then 15 minutes off. In total, you will have three 15 minute review sessions.

Prepare your presentation area so reviewers have space to use the prototypes. There will likely will be several side discussions with reviewers. Please have team members present to demonstrate/answer questions and have several persons ready to record notes during the review.

A 5 minute video of your team demonstrating your prototype will be taken during one of your breaks.

Post-review Logistics

Notes recorded during the review should be disseminated to the team for consideration when prioritizing improvements before the final presentation and design revisions for the 30 minute design reviews are on Monday following the review (signup for the design review from the dashboard). If you showed any videos or other materials during the review, please upload them through the dashboard by midnight Friday night.

Preliminary feedback will be provided Saturday morning on the course website. Additionally, your review materials and video will be posted, and you will receive written feedback from at least 3 course staff before 5 PM Sunday. After you have reviewed the written feedback from instructors on the course website, please complete your milestone reflection in your design notebook.

Via the dashboard, please arrange a meeting with Professor Wallace for Tuesday after the tech review to discuss your final presentation setup and have another brief design review.

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