Format of an Engineering Notebook

  1. 3 years ago

    JesseCRN

    3 Apr 2012 Indianapolis, IN 323Z

    This is going to be my 3rd year in the VRC competition (plus one year in FTC), and the past two years I have felt like my teams Engineering Notebook has not been very good. I am just wondering what type of format or layout you guys use for your engineering notebook. What do you add each meeting, and how do you organize it.

    If someone has a sample engineering notebook they would like to share, that would be super!

    Thank you!

  2. Vacation9

    3 Apr 2012 Burke, VA 2001

    We make maybe a page every meeting detailing what we have done, and organize these entries into different sections which have dividers in between them. Design, Build, Programming, Competition, etc. we also have a bio page at the front. Hope this helps!

  3. JesseCRN

    3 Apr 2012 Indianapolis, IN 323Z

    @Vacation9 We make maybe a page every meeting detailing what we have done, and organize these entries into different sections which have dividers in between them. Design, Build, Programming, Competition, etc. we also have a bio page at the front. Hope this helps!

    So, do you have say at the front, your day by day progress, but then in the dividers: Design, Build, Programming, Competition, etc... You have a more detailed description of what you did for each thing?

    Say you worked on your drive train, and some programming all day. Would you describe what you did at the front, then go to Build and give more detail of what you built, and the same for Programming? What do you include in your Programming Section. Do you print out your code or something, or just describe what autonomous should do?

    Do you write it out with your hand, or type it out then stick it into your notebook.

    Thank you!

  4. The format my team and I had used is like this:

    Cover Page

    Table of Contents (for meetings)
    Table of Contents (for figures / images)
    Appendix (Bio / Code / Misc. Attachments)

    Then here's an outline for a day's meeting:
    Date
    Task List (Programming / Building / Drivetrain... Whatever)
    A tab or section specifically for each task

    Conclusion (What was accomplished / possible goals for next meeting / etc.)

    Our team had won a few awards using this format for our engineering journal this season. We did it electronically just for the sake of pictures but really handwritten is fine too as long as you RECORD EVERYTHING!!!

    Hope this helps.

  5. devinc

    3 Apr 2012 Murrieta,CA 569C

    Here is the first page of my engineering notebook I got the first day of school freshman year. These were what we had to do in our notebooks...

    • Write all ideas in notebook
    • Record all assignments and sketches
    • NO PENCIL, Blue or black ink ONLY
    • Write neatly
    • Clearly label, refer to sketches/diagrams
    • Title every entry
    • Date all entrys
    • Dont leave any empty spaces. Put an "X" through blank pages and start entries on a new page
    • Number all pages
    • Sign after each entry

    This has helped me throughout the years. This year we tried to do our notebook in MS word but I did not like it so I went back to a hard copy.

  6. jgraber

    3 Apr 2012 Dallas Texas metroplex

    BEST robotics has a really detailed rubric for BEST Engineering Notebooks, and a notebook is required from each team to participate in the game.
    Some of the highlights of the BEST rubric that may help for other competitions:

    • Have a game strategy, and make a list of goals and features you want your robot to do to execute that strategy.
    • Prioritize that list using Design Matrix, aka qualitative or quantitative Pugh Matrix.
    • Show early design sketches of what you intend to build.
    • Show some math to analyze if it seems like your ideas will work.

    Quantities like power, energy, force, coefficient of friction, torque, mass, gear ratios, length of arms vs desire height all look good.

    • Show pictures of something you built.
    • Show performance measurements you made on what you built.
    • Make some mistakes, iterate, try multiple things, measure their performance, decide what the important criteria are, in order to pick the best one.
    • Iterate again.

    Random other ideas:

    Write down Lessons Learned from a competition and from scrimmage sessions, and what you are going to do about them.

    Make simple driving exercises, and graph how performance improves as drivers get more practice. Track mean time between breakdowns, and if there are preventive maintenance practices that can reduce breakdowns.
    Track mean time to repair, and how design changes can lower it.
    Research some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen methods like 6S and see how they can be implemented in your team. If I were judging, I'd be impressed by a Vex team with a team-appropriate 6S poster and visible signs it was taken seriously. Be sure to PM me if with a link if you do this.

  7. devinc

    3 Apr 2012 Murrieta,CA 569C

    @jgraber Write down Lessons Learned from a competition and from scrimmage sessions, and what you are going to do about them.

    This is also a good idea. After each of our tournaments we have to do a recap about how the tournament went, our strenghts and weakness's and what we plan on doing in the future.

  8. 3008

    3 Apr 2012 Hawaii 3008

    We won the design award in 2011 in part because of our engineering journal (over 100 pgs, its about the whole process). We went through about 7 robots that we built and rebuilt to play different aspects of the game Round Up. The format we used was *picture of completed robot, objectives we wanted it to meet, mechanisms and designs that we felt would meet it, which designs we chose then a list of the build process and problems, solutions, analysis of each obstacle or difficulty. Once we had a finished robot we'd put down its specs such as, what can it do. A calender or schedule is also required. You also do not need any elaborate explanations, a picture and a caption is good enough.

    And one comment we got, if anyone was going for design award, keep your explanations simple, and really know what you are talking about. The judges are sick of students getting told by mentors what to say, or talking about programming stuff that they really don't know about. We kept our presentation ridiculously simple and straightforward highlighting about 4 aspects of our robot that worked really well. Previous presentations before us I think went to the time limit. We took about 2 minutes to explain, 3 minutes to answer questions.

    And of course, make sure your robot does what you explain it does during competition and is reliable. A non moving robot is a very very bad show when going for awards.

  9. JesseCRN

    3 Apr 2012 Indianapolis, IN 323Z

    Thank you all so much for your help. A quick question, do most of you type out what you want to say, then stick it into a binder?

    Thanks :D

  10. Vacation9

    3 Apr 2012 Burke, VA 2001

    @Bot-E Builders Thank you all so much for your help. A quick question, do most of you type out what you want to say, then stick it into a binder?

    Thanks :D

    We write it out by hand. Then sign it. We only have a bio at the front.

  11. JesseCRN

    3 Apr 2012 Indianapolis, IN 323Z

    @Vacation9 We write it out by hand. Then sign it. We only have a bio at the front.

    OK. I am thinking about typing out what we do each meeting in the front, kind of like a journal, but then in the separate sections, write down more detail + drawings of what we did that day.

  12. Vacation9

    3 Apr 2012 Burke, VA 2001

    @Bot-E Builders OK. I am thinking about typing out what we do each meeting in the front, kind of like a journal, but then in the separate sections, write down more detail + drawings of what we did that day.

    Ah, yes, drawings are very good too. We do some drawings when we make a major design change. We don't have any meetings in the front, all the entries except for our awards, bios, and design challenge entries are in different sections.

  13. AnotherRoboMom

    3 Apr 2012 Teachers/Coaches, Event Partner Maryland

    Here is a quick overview of the engineering design process, as posted on the VEX site: http://www.vexrobotics.com/design/

    There are some good examples and suggestions in this thread.

  14. JesseCRN

    3 Apr 2012 Indianapolis, IN 323Z

    @AnotherRoboMom Here is a quick overview of the engineering design process, as posted on the VEX site: http://www.vexrobotics.com/design/[/url]

    There are some good examples and suggestions in this thread.

    Thank you for reminding me of this. Our coach ([URL="http://www.vexforum.com/member.php?u=27136"]JayM) printed out that page and gave it to all the team members to look over.

  15. Pastoral_Invasion

    3 Apr 2012 Cedar Park, TX 4252A

    Does anyone know if there is any preference between binder and bound options? I know bound notebooks are usually the standard, however feel as if it might be easier to work in a binder format. Also, is an electronic format recommended? How about a notebook with an electronic counterpart to store media (pics and vids mostly)? Has anyone tried this?

  16. 3008

    4 Apr 2012 Hawaii 3008

    I'm not sure if there's a preference. I don't see why there would be as long as the content is clear.

    The middle school and high school that won in 2011 both had binders. Its easier to update and add more to them, you only have to add your papers in the back and change the table of contents (its really not that important).

    I think an electronic version is cool to have while explaining, but the judges want something to hold and flip through, not figure out how to get to certain pages.

  17. mediumdave

    4 Apr 2012 Cambridge, MA 5492

    If you're not eligible for the Design or Excellence award, should you bring a design notebook anyway?

  18. X-Factor

    4 Apr 2012 Wisconsin N/A

    Does anyone know if there is any preference between binder and bound options? I know bound notebooks are usually the standard, however feel as if it might be easier to work in a binder format. Also, is an electronic format recommended? How about a notebook with an electronic counterpart to store media (pics and vids mostly)? Has anyone tried this?

    My team uses a combination of both. We have a engineering notebook (composition bound) for documentation of when our team is together and our design process. We also have a binder for diagrams of our autonomous modes, pneumatics, and wiring. Plus we put our internet discussions, which is over fifty pages in itself, in there. We only use electronic components to show our cads of our robot.

  19. Vacation9

    4 Apr 2012 Burke, VA 2001

    @mediumdave If you're not eligible for the Design or Excellence award, should you bring a design notebook anyway?

    This might be a good idea; it might help you win other awards.

  20. MarkO

    4 Apr 2012 Albany, Oregon, USA, North Wes...

    @Pastoral_Invasion Does anyone know if there is any preference between binder and bound options? I know bound notebooks are usually the standard, however feel as if it might be easier to work in a binder format. Also, is an electronic format recommended? How about a notebook with an electronic counterpart to store media (pics and vids mostly)? Has anyone tried this?

    In the Occupation of Engineering, Bound is the only way to go.... Your Engineering Notebook is an Official Record of your work, Signed and Dated with your designs, so that any Alterations will be obvious.

    It is my understanding that the Awarding of a Patent can come down to who developed some Idea and When it was developed, documented by the Engineering Notebook..

    I seem to remember this being covered the the Introduction to Engineering, ENG-111 Class at College...

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