Documenting work

Condensed story for a long question.

Team X can’t decide on robot design so moves to divide and conquer by splitting team members to concurrently build two robots and test them against one another when finished. With proper documentation conventions in mind, how should it look?

  1. Keep the single notebook and hope your titling and labeling is clear enough for judges and others to see what’s going on as you try to document each experience from one page to the next.


  1. Branch from original notebook with 2 separate “appendix” notebooks (one for each unique robot build) and then come back to original notebook with decision making tools and documentation on that process then move forward in original notebook with rest of the season.


  1. Something different?


This goes in one notebook.

The idea of the Engineering Notebook is to capture the design process. It is quite common for design to involve testing multiple prototypes, sometimes in a “compete-off” or “shoot-out” format. Just document it in one notebook. Describe what you’re doing and why, and have an assessment after the competition showing the tradeoffs for each of the designs.

This is a common need in all forms of engineering design. Don’t hide part of the process by not putting it in the EN you’ll be turning in for judging.

Wasn’t hiding. Just wanted to make sure it was clear…as in turn in all 3 pieces for judging. But if that isn’t the norm, the. I guess it isn’t the proper option.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the norm if you’ve already done it. I thought you were asking for next year. Turn it all in for judging no matter how you did it.

And for clarification, when I said:

I didn’t mean you were trying to hide it from the judges. But consider what an Engineering Notebook is used for in real life. It’s so people can, at a later date, see how the design choices were made. A close friend works in the nuclear field. He’s operated and maintained many different reactors through his career. He worked for quite some time at “The Site”, a DOE lab which has had more than 50 test reactors in its history. There isn’t a standard design for any of those; the purpose of The Site was to decide what to build, and how to build it, operate it, and maintain it, depending on the use of the reactor. So everything they know today about how the design choices were made comes from Engineering Notebooks dating back to as early as 1949. It has been very important from time to time for the engineers and operators to read what was tried and abandoned, and why they abandoned it. If those decisions hadn’t been documented, they would have been hidden and lost to history, with a likelihood of uninformed and incorrect decisions being made in the future.

In your case, it sounds like you documented different designs in different notebooks, all of which are available for review. That’s fine, so long as the individual volumes have the signature and dates on the pages. Also, when turning in multiple volumes which are each only partially filled, you should make a “LAST ACTIVE PAGE” notation in each “abandoned” volume, and state on the LAST ACTIVE PAGE that no page past that point should contain active data. Note that in the table of contents as well.

If you are continuing to add information to multiple books, that’s a much less common practice, but so long as it is properly signed and dated, it is acceptable.

Perfect feedback and much appreciated. haven’t moved forward at all yet. Still sitting at the crossroad. wanted to get some opinion before deciding what to do. Thanks again.