3-Ring Binder Notebooks DQ'd - you are not alone

In response to kellyc,

We have had a similar problem. This year we won the design award twice in Connecticut (with a perfect score) and competed at the Southern New England Regionals this past weekend. After one of the judges interviewed us, they said, and I quote, “One of the best interviews I’ve had in my eight years of doing this.” When it came time for awards, we somehow fell short. After the ceremony, a member of our team went to go ask for a copy of the rubric to see what our score was. They also asked what we could do to improve our journal. The same guy who said the quote from before now said this:

**“Your journal was practically useless. We saw numerous times that multiple people had worked on a single problem and therefore it was impossible to determined who was responsible for what. In the real world, you wouldn’t be able to patent your robot because you cannot prove the originality of your ideas.” **

Nowhere in the rubric does it say that we have to be able to patent our robot. Nor does it say we can’t have multiple people work together to solve a problem (He also said that they use a different rubric but I haven’t been able to find a different one), but why did this hold us back? If anyone could provide an explanation please let us know.

I thought it was explicitly instructed that they had to use the RECF provided rubric, and couldn’t deviate?

First - what? What do patents have to do with this?

Second, I have no idea what the issue with multiple people collaborating is. How is it wrong for a team to work together? If you’re telling the truth, take this as the highest degree of support that I find this extremely hard to believe. I just can’t imagine someone actually saying that. Variations of this type of issue are why I have little faith in and put little effort into judged awards.

Judges need to follow the rubric and the Judge Advocate needs to make sure that happens.

And in the real world, teams of people share patents all the time, so he was confused about a single person needed to be able to claim the work.

1 Like

+1 or to be specific, +4 more people in my case…

Patents aren’t that common in general engineering anyway, and you could bet that if i’m applying for a patent I’ll have legal council. That reasoning seems crooked. did the “home” team win?

I don’t know why they are trying to teach students to write note books that are legal documents, that’s not even taught in most colleges. to me it’s not useful, and doesn’t seem useful at all in industry.

We have had two Partners tell us something similar. We were accused of editing our journal pages. I honestly have no clue how they came to the conclusion that someone spent the time rewriting our journal in six different semi-legible handwriting.

It is useful in some industries. While I am a Software Engineer, over the years I have worked with several digital, mechanical, and electrical engineers that did document all of their work like this to be able to prove prior art related to patents. That being said, over my 28 year career only a small percentage of the engineers I’ve worked with have needed to do this.

I understand the basic principle behind this, but think requiring high school students to do this is a misplaced priority. For my teams, teaching them to thoroughly document whatever they are doing is my main goal. Not so they can patent their work or someone else could build their robot from scratch, but so they can look back and see the progress they have made and understand how the decisions they may had a positive or negative impact on their robot, team, competitiveness, etc.

The only problem I have with this situation is that this edict was given at the STATE COMPETITION. To me, that was way too late. If this was to be a criteria, it should have been announced at the beginning of the season to give all teams a chance to comply. You don’t run an entire season then wait until the very end to tell teams that their ENs are unacceptable.

I don’t have a problem with RECF dictating the format of the ENs or their reasoning, but it needs to be communicated. I am following this with interest because we currently use a 3-ring binder for our EN. We may change that for next season if this turns out to be a trend. I’d be so angry if our teams worked hard on an EN all year only to have them tossed out for reasons that were not communicated well in advance.

I’ve only been in the field for 4-5 years, but that’s the trend I have noticed. Most of the “notes” I take at work are digital anyway.

I’d just like to see a clear ruling on this. My partner and I like to teach our students what is useful note taking techniques for college as that’s what high school is prepping them for. Then again teaching them to conform to crappy corporate policy can be preparation for professional life I guess :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s not the case at the many places I’ve worked through the years. In some industries you need special permission from a regulatory agency to keep your official records digitally instead of on paper. One reason is that marks on paper made by an identifiable person have legal weight that data in a database does not. (There are lots of industries where electronic “Systems of Record” are common. However, those systems have to pass certifications, and therefore bear the cost of the certification process.) The other issue is something called “the attribution problem.” Marks on paper with a signature at the bottom make clear who is making the claims. The “chain of custody” (misusee of the term; conveys the idea) for bytes in a database is very hard to verify.

I understand, but they keep giving the same answer. To paraphrase and summarize what I’ve read in a half-dozen or so responses:

“We provide guidelines; follow them. Look at these examples; emulate them. Here is the criteria we give our judges; read it and take it into account. As an exception to this guidance, in order to account for beginning teams who have been unaware of our standards, we will accept and judge whatever you submit. However, our guidance remains the same.”

According to much research on the subject, the act of taking notes on paper is far superior for memory than is typing.

It might be a good thing to teach them to comply with the guidelines and standards of common practice whenever it’s easy to do so. Seek exceptions only when you truly need them. Going in to be judged and saying “You have to accept this, the Q and A says so” is less good than handing them a notebook that doesn’t require invoking an exception.

My advice (not to you personally, @TheColdedge, but to teams, mentors and event partners who care about this) is that if you want to change the policy (a very worthy goal) do it by advocating directly to RECF. Don’t do it by having your team produce a notebook that doesn’t follow what they keep recommending, even if they don’t actually, completely, 100%, require it.

I understand that, I myself took notes by hand in college. BUT, we are also making a note book that is to be presented to other parties and it needs to be legible. for students that already have neat penmanship it could be permissible to release a document for judging as is. BUT people like me who’s handwriting is at the best of times difficult to read need to use a typed platform to create a document that i would be comfortable presenting for judgment. on the Flip side, as a judge if i can’t read what they’ve written I would not be giving it high marks.

This seems so Niche and I still don’t see the value of it being taught to high school students.

Every place I’ve worked has, that’s two huge corporations and tiny family owned op. Any legal documentation was to be passed through the legal council.

I’m not arguing that it doesn’t happen only that it’s not standard across the industry.

We are trying to tow the line between making a document that is passable for competition use, and teaching our students good skills for surviving a engineering course in college (Taking notes, Writing labs, ect) Because in the end that’s what we are doing, trying to educate the next generation of engineers and scientists, and they all will have to make it through generally tough college courses and being educated in advance how to write a good lab, and how to take effective notes for me would have been invaluable.

Edit: I just would like to know there is a standard across the board. Where we are i know three ring binders are okay so for us it isn’t an issue. we just don’t want to spend 9 months with the students teaching them something to find out at the US open and Worlds everything they’ve done is useless.

Honestly I can’t really blame the judges here. It’s explicitly stated that a bound notebook is preferred. While they shouldn’t have just thrown out the notebooks that were not bound, I can understand them weighting bound notebooks more than what is expected. The actual notebook may not be that relevant to the real world, but following directions is. I don’t think it’s that much more difficult when you buy your 3 ring binder to buy a bound notebook instead. At this point there’s nothing anyone can really do, but really you only have yourself to blame for being unable to follow directions.

ok, so you all who have had bad experiences, 3 ring binders were judges as fine this year, but what route should i for next year, bound or 3 ring binder?

If the description says bound is preferred, why in the world would you not use a bound notebook?

where does it actually state that? its not in the design award rubric. anywhere

It’s on a RECF page: http://www.roboticseducation.org/vex-robotics-competitionvrc/vrc-team-leadercoach/

It’s at the end of the first paragraph describing the engineering notebook.

Here are the exact words:

preferred != required

the issue isn’t are the bound noted books being weighted higher, it’s completely disregarding anyting else

Of course not. The judges should not have ignored the 3 ring binder notebooks. But if there is very clear documentation that bound is preferred, why use a binder?

All of the arguments i hashed out above, I don’t feel like re typing.