Design Award

Hey everyone! I was wondering what my team and I could do to further our chances at winning the design award at our next competition. Our notebook is quite extensive but I was wondering what we could do right now that could help us propel beyond the competition and impress our judges who look at our notebook/interview us. Thanks a lot!

Be very confident and include code, as well as citing your inspiration.

Interviews are tough. Just be sure to include everyone and their roles. Make sure to be positive and briefly go through your process for any given component if asked about it.

@Got a Screw Loose
Yep. Going off this idea adding a separate log just dedicated to programming would work well.
Using a higher levels of math correctly and incorporating them into your design or software seems to get judges interested very quickly.
Consistent logging is key alongside having detail to the point where it is completely clear what is used and how everything goes together.
Testing and innovation is also a big thing that you could talk about during the interview and notebook as well as extremely innovative designs that are reasoned well and explained well have a great amount of interview competitiveness.

Referring to the official rubric: helps as well

You really do need to be on the same page. I had a group that argued in front of the judges about their roles and that did them in.

  • This is your cover letter/ resume. How good this looks goes a long way toward points on the award rubric. It needs neat handwriting. Good pictures or hand drawn sketches. Use a straight edge if you are sketching, and print in color if you are using pictures. Presentation here is everything, it needs to look good because most judges are just leafing through and aren’t reading anything in detail. So eye catching drawings go a long long long way.

Link to images of the notebook:

The team’s notebook guy was an art student, I would encourage all prospective engineers to take 2D art. Learn some basic shading. As a note, adding the green was an idea we had to make the drawings come off the page more. If you do not take art, I will say he used a straight edge religiously, don’t rough sketch unless your rough sketching looks good. The Chassis page (9th image in the abum) is a good example how to make simple drawings that get the idea across without needing to be extra fancy.

  1. Plan/Practice the Interview
    Alright your Notebook got you standing in front of the judges. Now what?

Introduce yourself and your team and what they do.
Ask the judges about themselves, this might be a good opportunity to ask what they do in their day jobs and then thank them for being there. This will tell you how technical you need to be. I usually have one to two actual engineers as judges and one person with “soft skills” that is more of a people person and knows effectively nothing about robots. They are basically the HR staff in the interview they’re important, but you don’t want to bury them in technical detail.

It’s great to go into detail about super technical stuff, but at the end of the day you need these people to understand what you discussed after you leave. so make sure you know what you are talking about and know what a acceptable level of detail is. I had my kids practice their interviews on me, the other coaches, and then we ask them to give their presentation to their parents. If you can adequately explain your robot to your mom the volunteers at the event should also be well informed after you talk to them.

  1. Dress nicely and match
  • look like a team, good imaging is important

4.Don’t expect judges to prompt you
show up with a plan, don’t stand their awkwardly waiting for them to prompt you, many team show up with a routine and those presentations are what prompt questions. " here’s my robot, what do you want to know? " isn’t going to cut it.

  1. practice, practice, practice, but don’t sound like you’re on rails
  • A complaint from my judges for teams that were competitive, but not good enough to win is they sound rehearsed and in a bad way.

Make sure you are animated and not monotone, make eye contact, and remember you aren’t talking to a wall.

  1. Programing
    -My kids won a excellence award because they were the only team that could actually tell judges what PID was. That is exactly what the judge (who was a software engineer) told the EP, who told me. If you are going to tell judges what your program does, don’t just throw out buzz words. If you start talking about your autonomous it might be better to explain what it does on the field rather than what you did in the computer. Bring a map of the field and physically show what your team can do. Judges that know about programing are going to be less common, but you don’t want to accidentally feed a line to one that does know something.

  2. Don’t go first

if judges give you an option to sign up. I would try to get interviewed not first. some people may be new and haven’t quite figure out what they’re doing yet.

My seniors last year got the Excellence award at the US Open. They had a stellar notebook and were all three very likable and personable people. They also knew what they were talking about, had practiced how to communicate it, and were able to not only tell judges about their robot, but also tell the judges who they were and how they fit on the team.

All the above is good info to follow. I would add to make sure everyone participates in some way.

Also, like said above, make sure you tick all the boxes in the rubric.

Yeah thanks a lot for the advice!! We have sketches in there but do you guys think that extensive CAD pictures look good too? We have a lot of them in our notebook. The judges said they wanted more eye appealing items but we have a lot of graphics. As for now, should we add color somehow to make it more appealing? Thanks

I like to also see the back of the napkin drawings as ideas are emerging. CAD for the final render is nice, but it does not demonstrate the design process that got there. Also include factors that influence design decisions, for example, post tournament reflection of what was missing - “we really could have used a cap descorer in the semi-finals”. Trust me, judges love that… "Timmy ate all the cupcakes’, not so much.

Bill of materials and cut lists (as a club advisor, having tons of scrap aluminum does not make me happy.

That’s perfect we have a lot of troubleshooting and redesigning in there including post tournament SWOT charts and reflections from our team members (also a few “back of the napkin” sketches are there too!)

Excellent! Good to have an overview of your team’s design process at beginning of season, and update to process due to time constraints, etc.

I had a colleague who was asked “what makes a great website design?”, she answered “it has to be useful to you.” Same thing goes for design process, if it is not useful to you, then it is probably not going to be a great design process.

Thanks to all of you who replied! We were able to win the design award for our team at our competition today! It really means a lot!

We just won it today. Judges won’t even consider if it is a binder. Also there is a specific order that you want to have all the parts in. They also under estimate middle school teams to win the award

I beg to differ