Engineering Book Question

I am new to the design notebook, so I have a few questions.

If you are to use a binder, should you use the engineering notebook as well?

If the engineering notebook is used along with a binder, are we allowed to use typed pages of notes? For example, If I want to go in depth with my book for next year and don’t want to hand write 30 pages for game analysis, can I print it and place it in the binder or will it not be judged the same as the physical notebook?

I am honestly just confused about the whole digital and written rules for books.

Finally, if I am allowed to use papers along with the physical notebook, should I leave specific topics out from anyone’s experience?

thank you for helping :slight_smile:

Read the Judges Guide, and look at example notebooks from previous seasons. Hopefully, these should answer your questions : ).

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A binder with the notebooks is a great way to “archive” notebooks!
I wrote 4 notebooks for my team this season and have won Innovate, Excellence, and Design awards! If you would like tips I would recommend writing in permanent ink that won’t bleed through, filling out the table of contents, signing pages as to who did what (witnessed by and designed by signatures as well as who brought images/documents), writing journal entries, keeping an organized format, and explaining the game as well as a map of the field!

Hope this helps, and have fun writing in the notebooks!

Notebook judges are not going to actually read 30 pages of notes. They will note the headings (game analysis). Notebooks should be clearly organized and easy to ‘digest’ for a judge. Now, if your notebook is in the running for excellence at worlds every detail matters (color, font, spacing, signatures, etc). Pics of the build can help also.

Hmm, then maybe I haven’t been doing judging right…

In all seriousness, judges do not have time to look at every page. Still, we do look at pages from different points in the season to verify a team has maintained a consistent level of documentation throughout the season and that all steps of the design process have been repeated multiple times and have been documented in a clear manner. This is why tabbing is helpful as it helps judges to find meaningful entries (such as the start of a rebuild or your game analysis).

However, certain things like

don’t really matter as they are merely a point of personal choice and should have no real bearing on the level of documentation (note that it is more about the content of the notebook, not how stylized or pretty it looks). I guess if two teams scored the same for both their notebooks and interviews these could be used as tie-breakers, but at that point judges would be more concerned with the actual content of the notebooks (and interviews) rather than how they look (for example, one team might have a lot of outreach entries while another has a consistently vivid documentation style across hundreds of pages)

Additionally there comes a point where

don’t matter since there’s only so much information it can convey without wasting too much space.

do matter, but its merely whether you consistently have them or not. I doubt any judge would care to take the time and verify that every page of a notebook is signed by a student author and witness.

If a team wins a major judged award but does not include

then I would seriously want to speak with the judges in charge of that decision. “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and in the land of engineering notebooks one would simply be left dead in the water without them. Most judges are not going to have the relevant competition experience (competing on a VIQC/VRC/FLL/FTC/FRC/VEXU/whatever robotics competition team) to know what you mean by a “flexwheel intake comprised of an initial floating stage and two more fixed stages mounted further along the polycarb ramp.” Therefore images are key in allowing judges to see what is being described on each page, so that anyone without a clue what they are doing can replicate the steps a team took to build the many evolutions of their robot throughout the season.

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What I mean is that nobody’s going to read through 30 pages of game analysis notes… at least unless your notebook’s in the running for excellence @ worlds. Same for other nitpicky items.

As far as the headings/fonts/etc go. In one regard, they should not (and are not a ‘judged’ item). On the other hand… they should be clear and consistent. If the text is 12 point font and the headings are 12 point… they are not exactly going to he easy to identify. Same goes for bold/highlighting/etc.

And pics of the build are just that… pics of the build, in the entirety. Pics of components/subsections are great for entries that deal with those individual items, but unless you have a complete photo log of the build then someone can’t build a bot from your notebook… something specifically mentioned in the requirements.

This moves the photo logger’s role from a ‘secondary’ job to a ‘primary’ one.

Don’t forget to include a tape/ruler for scaling items which are not obvious (axles, stand offs, etc).

Hi there! I think I can help

If you are to use a binder, should you use the engineering notebook as well?

This is definitely not a requirement under the current design rubric. There’s nothing saying you get extra points for handwritten vs. printed. This could change next year if the rubric is updated again. I always go with handwritten and our notebooks still go into a binder with our printed code.

If the engineering notebook is used along with a binder, are we allowed to use typed pages of notes?

I have not found that having some supplemental material printed has been a disadvantage. In my region there are a lot of teams with strong notebooks, and we still took home Design award at State with printed material in our notebook.

I am honestly just confused about the whole digital and written rules for books

It can be very confusing! As of right now the rubric has almost no specifications. Previously there were extra points for handwritten, and then in later years extra points if you could simply prove things were done chronologically. We’ll have to see if they update the notebook rubric next year.

Finally, if I am allowed to use papers along with the physical notebook, should I leave specific topics out from anyone’s experience?

Going back to your second question, I would discourage you from printing things like game strategy. Because that is an essential part of the design process and design rubric scoring, I would include that in your main documentation section under the meeting notes for whatever day you discussed it. Judges will almost always rule in favor of the team that shows how they did things chronologically. The same goes for robot design selection, goals, time management, etc. Chronological is almost always the best choice!

Hope this helps!

I am curious how people are handling signatures/initials when using the electronic format (e.g. Google Docs)?

The way I do it is printing the pages and physically signing/dating them with a pen, as well as writing in page numbers so I can have a table of contents

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Use a handwriting font for the document footers for the author and witness signatures. If you wanted to get fancy, you could create a font based on that person’s handwriting/signature, but at that point, you would be focusing too much on the specifics.

Doing what @ Red_Pinning_12345 mentioned is a good idea if your region favors physical submission but isn’t feasible for online submission.

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