Engineering Notebook Advice


Hello VEX forum,

In the past, my team has worked diligently on our engineering notebooks to no advantage; we have never been able to secure a design award and so it feels as if all of our work has been for nothing. My question is: Do any of you Design award winners have advice on what to put in engineering notebooks? Right now we only put in our robot designs, but in the past, we have seen personalized team pages, schedules, and even detailed strategic plans. Are these things judges like to see, or is that just considered fluff? Also is it worth it to take the 3 point hit for a binder, or is a bound notebook preferable? Is there anything else you feel we may be missing that could be beneficial to our notebooks? Any advice at all would be great!

Thanks, everyone, and good luck with your bots.


Your notebook should contain the design process from start to finish. That includes your resources (materials, people, time) that you put into it, your design constraints (2 minutes match, 2 batteries, 12 motors, etc), your design goals (score points as fast as possible), and the entire process from those inputs to your final competition robot.

In the end, a different team should be able to read your notebook, rebuild your robot, and be able to explain WHY it is built that way.


As someone who has an undefeated design award at state level, I will say quite frankly that you would have to do more than just quantity. Judges focus more on the quality of the notebook, with quantity as generally an ignored or second-handed aspect. Judges have their own beliefs and opinions regarding the design award, you just have to design a notebook that is compatible for all of them.

The notebooks I write are clean with minimal errors. When there is any errors, cross them out with a single line and fix it with your initials. Another key is to have organization; don’t be afraid to leave the rest of pages blank if it makes your notebook be easier to read. If you see that you will be moving to a new subject, cross out the empty space of the page with a line from the bottom-left side to the top-right side with your initials. Make sure that the designer has clean handwriting and takes time writing in a manner that would clearly be understandable to the judges. Make sure that the notebook always is written in black ink, and not in pencil. This should be common knowledge to most professional engineering notebooks.

Judges want to see that the students are following the notebook accordingly and appropriately while designing the notebook. I spend a great deal of time explaining the design process that will be followed in my notebook, in which will be used for the design. I will also recommenced getting the rubric and make the notebook in order of the grading material by the rubric.

Notebooks are only an aspect of the design award. Make sure that you have very good interview skills and prepare beforehand giving each person of your team a specific topic to discuss about. Make sure that you try your hardest to not interrupt one another because that will deduct points. Also, by having a design that is unique could even further influence the judges to rate you much better because seeing a unique or “never-before-seen” solution could grab their interest. You can also get the judges interest by not slouching down, be confident as you speak, as well as be knowledged by reviewing the interview section of the rubric to know what the judges will ask ahead of time.

Hopefuly this helps in some way, shape, or form :slight_smile:


This article may be helpful:


Your notebook should be in pen and not just BLACK pen. I checked that with FB Group for VEX World Coaches.


I appreciate the time Renegade Robotics puts in to helpful articles like this one. However, I’m afraid judges or potential judges would be mislead into placing more emphasis on the notebook for awards where the notebook isn’t a requirement spelled out in the judges guide.

Build, Create, Innovate, and Amaze don’t list the notebook as a consideration for the award. For the Create Award teams do need to demonstrate a creative design process, and that could be done in the notebook, but it isn’t a requirement. It’s kind of the same with the Think Award. The programming needs to be well documented, and the notebook is the best place to do that, but it’s probably not exclusive.

I’m not saying the article says the notebook is a REQUIREMENT, but it seems to lean that way. Too many times all these other awards become 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place Excellence Awards. Likewise, too often performance requirements leak into Design Award deliberations.

[quote=“kmmohn, post:4, topic:49653”]

This article may be helpful:


The way they’re written and described makes it seem like runner ups to excellence.

Like at Worlds this past year, the description for the Innovate Award which one of my teams won basically made it out to be a 2nd place Design Award, because it directly mentioned the notebook.

Amaze for a while my friends and other coaches have come to see as a 2nd place Excellence where a notebook isn’t required.


Understandably, at VEX Worlds the criteria and considerations are somewhat changed from a local tournament or state/regional championship. For example, in past years online challenges played a role in Excellence at Worlds, and of course they didn’t for other tournaments.