Can I use a 3 ring binder and graphing paper as an engineering notebook?

My partner and I are competing in SkillsUSA’s Urban Search and Rescue robotics competition next year but we’re on a very limited time and budget. Because the other parts are pricey, we can’t afford to buy a professional engineering notebook. To solve the problem, I put a ton of graph paper in a small 3 ring binder and drawled out a Table of Contents and format. I thought it would work but after research, I became less confident. Has anyone done this for a competition, and what were the judges response?

You can, but you will lose a couple of points due to not having a spiral bound notebook. (They want you to do this so they know you are not adding information into your notebook later)


Here is the official scoring rubric

Just to point it out in the rubric, there’s a section dedicated to how the notebook is put together, it reads:

Five points if the notebook is bound. Notebook must have been bound before any entries are made in it.

Zero points for any other notebook construction

Hope this helps,


That version of the rubric is outdated. I’ve attached this year’s rubric below. It can be found here:



Actually, I believe that is the IQ rubric

I’m pretty sure they updated the rubric this year. Check page 27 of the judge’s guide.

I believe there is only one Judge Guide for VEX U, VRC, VIQC


The RECF posts the design award rubric in the Documents tab of every qualifying event on - I am not sure why it is not on the team resources page.

The Rubric and Judge Guide for VEX IQ Challenge, VRC, and VEXU were all combined this year as volunteer judges participate in many types of events.

As noted bound notebooks get 5 extra points. You can get bound gridline notebooks fairly cheaply - we do every year for all our teams during back to school sales - usually less than $2 each.


All the answers above apply to VRC; OP said they were competing in SkillsUSA Urban Search and Rescue.

Its the same for VRC

good point - but this forum is for VRC related Judging Questions and Answers. So, if we put answers for SkillsUSA it will confuse VRC teams.

Hopefully OP will do what we recommend for VRC teams - go check on your rules manual/site.


It honestly doesn’t matter about what competition I’m in and guide lines. I just wanted general feedback. Thanks for the responses though! This incredibly helpful!