2915A Engineering Notebook 2016

Hey guys!

We won the Excellence Award at the 2016 Worlds and we’ve seen some requests from people to see our Engineering Notebook. Therefore, we’ve decided to release a copy of it along with some pointers on what we think some people might miss when they work on their Notebook.

  1. A team introduction. A group photo, maybe individual photos of each team member. Name each member and their roles so that the judges get to know you guys a bit better. Don’t be afraid to say that a team member does seemingly small tasks such as ‘Robot maintenance’. The judges want to know what you have contributed to in your team, from ‘Battery-Boy’ and Designing the robot to even things like the Online Challenges.

  2. A contents page so that whoever’s reading your Notebook can quickly go to a page that they want to read through again

Your Engineering Notebook should begin at the very start of your seasonal journey. You should use it to brainstorm about ideas of what can and can’t work. When working on the Notebook, you should try to think that a person with no knowledge about VEX or Engineering is reading the book and they need to not only be able to recreate your robot but understand your various design changes and features.

  1. We began with analysing the season’s game. Talk about how it’s best to play it. Any strategies, including their advantages and disadvantages. How can you score points? What can you do in auton? In NBN, we thought about hoarding, lifting, advantages and disadvantages of having a robot that can shoot only long or short range or both.

  2. We then drew up a design process model. You should use this as a basis for everything that you do as you work on your robot this season and keep referring it as you pass the ‘milestones’ in your design journey. We found ourselves going through this design process multiple times as we went through the several iterations of our robot for NBN.

  3. Throughout the season, we wrote logs documenting everything we did on the robot, our results and analysis of how we did at scrimmages, from what worked well to what didn’t and what could be improved upon. We included images and diagrams to better illustrate our thoughts and workings and annotated them to help the judges understand them better.

  4. Include a copy of your code that you used. We included a copy of our code for the two major iterations of our robot. Our code for our Nationals robot and Worlds robot, along with comments so that the Judges can understand why we chose to do what we did when writing the program.

  5. A timeline showing the major iterations of your robot. Throughout the season, we found ourselves going through several different designs of our robot, in a quest to find out which design was the best for our requirements. It might also be a good idea to include what you learned from each iteration.

  6. A diagram of all the legal non shattering plastic that you used on your robot that served a function. We got a piece of paper 12" x 24" (the max you’re allowed to use) and drew a 1:1 diagram of all the polycarbonate we used to show the judges that we weren’t exceeding the limit.

  7. A log of progress. We kept a log of all our robot skills runs as we got to a more competitive stage. We wrote down our scores, how many bonus balls we scored and how many stacks we picked up (we used them as a way to measure how fast our run was).

If you guys need something to be cleared up, feel free to ask! If enough people want it, I might also put up some pointers for the Excellence Interview since it plays a huge part in getting points for the Excellence Award.

Here’s a link to our Engineering Notebook folder (sorry, the main PDF is like 130mb!)


Reeve thanks!
Gonna read through it tonight :smiley:


Thanks for sharing! My team has really needed to see a proper engineering notebook :stuck_out_tongue:

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Well done! Thanks for sharing. Having a model for others to see is extremely helpful! (Don’t forget to note it in this season’s notebook :slight_smile: )


Thanks for sharing this! We really want to improve our engineering notebook next year, this will be a huge help!


We probably should start doing a Notebook… :stuck_out_tongue: We’ll see. (@lacsap)
Thanks for it though! It’s nice to see how a proper notebook is done, as well as see your designs.


Wow this is a great reference for new teams like ours!

I was just wondering, what kind of notebook is this? Is it one of those special engineering notebooks that they gave out at worlds, a binder, or something else?

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Yup, It’s one of the Engineering Notebooks that they handed out at Worlds. We’ve collected a lot of them over the years we’ve gone to Worlds!

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Congrats, nice notebook.

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These Are a good alternative. Get the 8"x10" at either 168 or 240 pages and it should last you a whole season if you document like crazy. These are what my school uses (albeit multiple sometimes) and we won almost every single design or excellence award in Virginia this season.

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Nice job guys! That’s a lot of pages compared to our team’s notebook :confused: Maybe we should create a more detailed and in-depth version for this year.

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May I ask how did you stick the pictures into the notebook? Did you just use glue?

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:slight_smile: Well you know DCL is welcome on Wednesdays, as long as they follow the house rules of having a notebook…

Judges will have a hard time considering you for Excellence Award without one…

@Mr. Vex , If you are nice, we can loan you one of those pointy things! 4344A has got one :slight_smile:

Yup. Just glue. You could use tape too if you like, I don’t think it really matters.

Thank you very much for the Engineering Notebook tips and pointers! I was wondering if you could put up the Excellence Interview tips you mentioned?


Here’s my Excellence Interview tips that I posted onto another thread. I’ll mark it as the answer to this thread to increase it’s visibility.

We prepared ourselves for a Q+A format interview, however when our interview began, the Judges asked for a presentation. Although we didn’t expect it, due to the amount of preparation we did, we were able to speak confidently and produce a good presentation for the judges. Based on our interview, here’s some tips:

  1. Preparation is key. Your entire team should go to the Excellence Interview and everyone should be able to speak confidently. We put together some documents with information about our season and what we did for the community. We got each member to read through them several times, and got each member to learn a different part so that when it came to the interview, instead of having just one person speak, everyone could have something to say and it would all come together cohesively.

  2. Try to make it interactive and visual. The Judges asked us about what we did for the community and also what we did during the season. We were able to answer both of these questions together by showing them our website. We told them that we came 2nd place in the Website Challenge and then we showed them our Outreach stuff and our Gallery containing images of us throughout the season, including our Outreach efforts with things like mentoring Juniors and going to Elementary schools. When talking about your robot, point to the different things and show them. If they see it, they’ll understand it better and know that you too understand it well.

  3. Talk about your Outreach and Season. The Excellence Award takes into account how you’ve done this season and what you do to give back to the community. This year we were focused on our Outreach program so we were able to talk to the Judges about how we mentor a group of Junior students in our school, how we go to Elementary and Middle schools around area and bring them some basic Lego Mindstorm kits to introduce them to robotics, how we help other teams in NZ with robotics and how we go out to local businesses to increase the presence of robotics.

  4. Make sure everyone has a good understanding of your robot. During our Interview, the Judges asked us several questions about our robot and code. Because everyone in our team was familiarised with our robot, each one of us could answer the questions well. Some questions asked were: “What is your favourite part on your robot”, “What is one feature of your robot that makes it unique” and “If you could change something on your robot, what would it be”. We talked about our different design choices and related them back to how it affected gameplay and strategies. Get someone who’s confident with your code to talk about it. The Judges at our interview were interested in our Velocity Control code and our Programmer was able to confidently reply.

4.Have fun. Seriously, no one likes a dull interview/presentation. Luckily for us, we all had great chemistry together and we saw that the Judges were really engaged and hooked into everything that we said. At the end of the presentation, the Judges asked us for the name of our robot. Instantly, we all began to laugh because our robot’s name was ‘Bangsta Wap’. When we explained how we got that name, we could see that the Judges too had tears in their eyes!

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Thanks for the help!

By the by you guys are the best but I noticed you didn’t have any copies of your program in your notebook. Any tips or tricks to that?

Hi, sorry for the late reply. We did have printouts of our program folded up and stapled in the back of the book (page 83-88) but you can’t actually see them in the scanned version of it. I believe that programming is a crucial part of the design process - so a good design book (in my opinion) should have all intermediate programs in the design book, along with short samples of code. This way you are able to refer back to old programs and potentially make it easier to develop your program.

This was one of the things that our team did not exactly do as well as we should have in our engineering notebook - but I highly recommend it. :slight_smile:

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It is an awesome example for all teams to consider. Well done!