Engineering notebook bonus

Last season there was a lot of discussion bout the preferences for bound notebooks. The RECF quantifies it by giving a 3 point bonus on the design rubric for bound notebooks. They accept other formats, I.e., printed from computer, but not online, laptops or USB thumb drives…

Thoughts on the bonus?

It seems arbitrary and unnecessarily punitive. In my region, most all the teams (and all the teams who put serious effort into their notebooks) use a digital format of some sort, and our Judges accounted for that. To be honest, this news doesn’t want make me want to jump and switch my notebook to a handwritten one, it makes my want to jut not work on the notebook. I get that VEX wants to ensure honesty, but all this rule is doing is punishing many teams with very good notebooks, or force them to spend many, many hours converting it. I already have like thirty or forty pages in my notebook, i would loath to spend the numerous hours I would need to copy that all down.

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The extra three points for a bound notebook is an incentive for teams to use a bound notebook not a hard and fast ruling that it must be done. I haven’t seen this year’s rubric yet, but last year, a total of 36 points were available (3 points in 13 categories). So, if a team chose to not use a bound notebook, the impact would be less than 10% of the final score. So this change in scoring is not saying that you can’t win an award without a bound notebook but that you can’t score the maximum points.

This reminds me of a friend I had in college. He was brilliant, had a high GPA but hated doing homework. In the beginning of the semester when the professor would talk about how he was going to grade - if he said that 10% of the grade was based on homework, my friend would say to himself “Looks like the best I can do is 90% in this class.” That was his choice and he did perfectly well in school and beyond. Life is about choices!

I am all for this! We still won’t do it, but it removes the ambiguity of “preferred”.

Our voices were heard. Wonderful.

I still think bound note books are archaic and add zero value, but it’s nice to be able to quantify my opinion.

I’d prefer if it were:
3 - bound
2 - 3 ring hand written
1 - 3 ring printed

instead of an all or nothing, but hey at least they changed it.

I personally hate this change. I’ve been doing printed notebooks for 2 years now and have absolutely NO intention of changing to handwritten one. We have a few excellence awards that we won because of our notebook back in NBN. We do put lots of work into our notebooks. For this reason, I think it is just a punishment to the numerous teams that do printed notebooks.
If you think about it, the whole point of a notebook in a real engineering profession is to document your work and be able to look back at it to find the answers to questions that you may have forgotten like “Why did that design not work?”. You could do that manually, but it would be much faster to search up keywords in Word, something that can only be done electronically. This is even more critical when you get to like 200+ pages in your notebook. Who has the time to go through and read everything in that?
I would understand if VEX added some additional requirements to authenticate printed notebooks, but taking points just for it being printed is something I think is absurd. I can’t think of anything that could be used to authenticate right now, but as soon as I think of something, I’ll edit this post.

that’s all valid, but the major point of contention before this ruling was the line that indicated that bound notebooks are “preferred” this ambiguity lead to some EPs not accepting any note book that wasn’t bound and numerous other random ways of ruling on them.

Now we know exactly what a bound notebook is worth and that in itself is a victory. Please continue to voice your opinions on bounded notebooks, but understand why this for now is a positive change.

edit to add:

Another point is now you have no fear of you notebook being penalized outside of those three points and if your assertion that a printed notebook is correct you should still be able to out shine in what you feel is an inferior approach. If for what ever reason that someone puts in the effort to produce a bounded notebook that is better than a digitally created one, then IMO they deserve that recognition. You at least now know up front exactly how much of the rubric you are sacrificing on the alter of convenience.

I’m glad that it is a definite point value, for the reasons others have stated. Does anyone know how a mixed notebook will be treated? I have about 25 pages handwritten in two bound notebooks (build log and code log) but I was planning to do a game strategy breakdown and executive summary and such in printed pages (so it would be a three-ring binder containing pages of general explanation, plus two soon-to-be fat bound notebooks).

That’s an interesting question. I wonder if it will be a check box for “yes this note book is bounded” or like the others and _/3.

If I had the ability to award any points out of three when judging your entry. I’d probably give partial credit for part of it being bounded.

You should request an official ruling.

I must be missing something, so, can someone please tell me where in the design award rubric you get three points for having a bound notebook because I don’t see it. Thanks in advance.

Edit: Nevermind, I found the updated rubric.

Just-released guidance from the Event Partner summit.

I don’t know the exact answer to “how (would) a mixed notebook (…) be treated,” but I would like to say that the majority of bound notebooks I’ve seen are already mixed-media, with things like photos and programming code listings printed and taped into the notebook. Not an official answer, but I’m pretty sure mixed notebooks are just as “OK” now as they were in the past.

I agree that a typed notebook is an equally valid way to write it, and penalizing teams for typing and printing a notebook seems silly. Personally, I type 60 words per minute and have terrible handwriting, so it just makes more sense to type. If I did hand write the notebook, I would never get excellence because the judges wouldn’t be able to read my notebook. :stuck_out_tongue:

There are plenty of people who can’t type particularly fast and have good handwriting, but typing speed and quality of handwriting really has nothing to do with the excellence award. Also, what’s the purpose of making people hand write the notebook? A mentor could easily hand write a notebook for the kids, and the kids could sound just as sophisticated when writing as the mentors. Unless judges use a handwriting check of some sort, there’s really no way to tell who wrote the notebook.

That’s a good point, and you are right that it’s less than 10% of the final score, so it’s probably not enough to change the excellence award winner. However, it doesn’t make sense to give extra points, no matter how few, for something that doesn’t matter. Nobody would be defending the rule if teams got extra points for using pneumatics instead of 12 motors, or for having more than 5 people, or for having the letter X after their number.

For our team the digital notebook is not a convenience it’s a necessity. We have a relatively small three man team and some of our team members and mentor (although he lives closer this season) have to drive over an hour to get to robot meetings. To help keep these long drives at a minimum we usually only have one mega meeting a week that last 12 hours on Saturdays and occasionally a few Friday meetings during crunch time. We take great pride in producing high quality, high performing robots and as I’m sure many of you know this takes a lot of time. When we have a robotics meeting it is “all hands on deck” for building so we really can’t allocate someone to writing a notebook during our meeting because building time is so precious. To combat this we have a follow up meeting over Skype within a few days of our regular meeting to do collaborative work over google docs on our digital notebook and reflect on what we accomplished at the meeting. If we had to hand write the notebook it would be hard on our members that have to travel to get to the follow up meetings to hand write the notebook.

That little rant was kind of off topic so to get back on track I just have to say that personally, I am thankful that vex has laid down the law so that we know exactly how much we will be punished for using a digital notebook.

How common are bounded, handwritten engineering notebooks in STEM industries?

Outside of professions that are filing patents. Fairly rare.

I figured having a written log would demonstrate that we aren’t making things up or whatever, but handwritten notebooks suck for anything but a basic log.

And, as I’ve said before, that does not match my personal experience, or the stated experience of the engineers I’ve reached out to about the issue.

I personally prefer electronic documents for much (but not all) of what I do for my own use. But I frequently have to support organizations that rely very heavily on handwritten, bound, signed journals.

And I’ve seen no hint those are going away anytime soon.

This usually only happens when you work under legal scrutiny, and that is not at all common.

I imagine PE’s would use bounded hand written journals more often based on the nature of their jobs, but becoming a professional engineer is tedious and opens you up for legal repercussions. If any prospecting job expected me to keep a detailed legal document there wouldn’t be enough financial compensation to keep me there.

I stand by my assertion that bounded notebooks are archaic and not worth emphasizing in this environment, however I am simply pleased we know exactly what its worth on the grading scale.

Consider, as a thought experiment, how you feel when a teacher offers extra credit questions on a test.

Do you feel you are being punished?

Or that extra effort is being rewarded?

I’m not saying “please answer that question here.” I am proposing that further thought on the issue is probably warranted.