Engineering notebook

This will be our first year keeping an engineering notebook, and we have no idea what that is.
I found the design award rubric, but I still have several questions:
What format to keep the notebook in? Hand-written, pdf, Google Docs?
Will the judges actually look at all of the daily logs in the notebook?
Is a bio necessary? And to what extent?
And in a section of the rubric, it says “students explain how each team member contributed to the design and
strategy.” What if there are team members that only, for example, manage all the daily logs?

This is up to you. It doesn’t really matter, but personally, I prefer hand written.

Not necessarily, but they will skim to make sure it is all there and looks good.

Not really, but I would recommend it. We just have a quick description of our team and history and a description of each member and what each of us do to contribute.

Then mention that and talk about what they do. Not everyone has to just work on the robot itself, there are scouts, programmers… Mention them and tell them how they contribute to your team.

It’s got to be printed on paper no matter what format you collect it. The judges / RECF are unable to cope with any electronic submission.

Aiden has some good points, dig in the archive ( search is your friend) for annual threads about this.

Only physical submission?
RIP trees


Today’s lesson is theory vs practice. In theory I weigh 180. In practice, I weigh more. :slight_smile:

In theory with RECF and their massive support / direction / mandate about on-line submissions of entries to qualify for awards they would welcome electronic notebooks.

In practice they have no idea how to deal with this.

As a traditional engineer that was putting things down on clay tablets when I was working on the pyramids, I kind of resent the comment about paper. Most of us deal daily with Electronic Engineering Notebooks, Custom wiki’s, Microsoft Sharepoint, etc. Yes, I carry a paper notebook, because having the iPad and the image of my current personal wiki on a Pi Zero that has wireless and a battery pack that I carry around in my briefcase and connect to from the iPad web browser is often more than I want to deal with.

But you are smart, start up a thread and figure out what the minimal electronic notebook would look like. Saying it’s a Kindle is easy. What does the software look like, how does it get organized so that as a judge I can look through and quickly see:

  1. The iterative design process – need to be able to see sequential pages showing progress, learnings, etc.
  2. The engineering that went on as part of the design process.
  3. Subsystems of the robot – mechanical drive base, scoring mechanisms.
  4. Code – overview, code that is formatted and has color highlights (See Cody posts about having the inline code format for what this would look like)
  5. Pictures of the robot under construction, at events, demos, etc.
  6. CAD drawings
  7. Etc.

It’s got to be something simple and easy to use so that the only real barrier to entry is the physical device. And it can’t need to connect to the cloud / server since lots of places don’t have public internet access.

Present it to RECF and get them to approve it.

The real problem is how do the engineer judges quickly find info and be able to compare it to another team.

That papyrus. You should have invested in it @Foster :slight_smile:

Wave of the future…

Great points. Add in strategy and scouting sheets. How did you plan to play the game, how have you played it, and how have others played it (better or worse or complementary to you)

@Foster That was a bit hyperbolic of me, I appologize for how rude I was (I have deleted my original comment). However, I will do as you ask, and put a proposal together, you can see it here

Going back to the original question, what goes in the notebook and how to make one – see this winning entry from the 2015 VEX Online Challenges. It is a great video on creating engineering notebooks.

For our Engineering Notebook, we typically use a composition book, as in like a graph paper. We have team biographies, and some intro things to let the judges know about us, our club, and such. We document everything that happens to our robot and talk about the code and brainstorming. The judges where we go actually read in details certain entries, and they ask us about specific of the robot. Our logs are one of our strong suits and they really help in Excellence awards.

I would recommend using all of these but mainly hand written so when the judges do look in to your notebook, they can see that you have put a lot of work in to the notebook.

When I was judging at Worlds, there were some extreemly well formatted, professional looking notebooks. One that I looked at was obviously written by a mentor or parent (it was just too good, and an interview with the team prooved our suspicion), but others included their various hand-written notebooks in the appendix, which easily prooved they did their own work.

Hint to parents/mentors: don’t start talking (aside from a friendly greeting) to the judges when they come to interview your team!

Very wise advice!

Just make sure that you or a group member is aware of what is happening with the team and what they are going to do to the robot. Also, have a designated writer for the group. It makes things a lot easier.

Dead give away! We like to ensure all adults out of the room when judging events locally so there is no opportunity for any real time prompting of student roboteers or having the ability to chime in. Pictures are fine. Just no miming in the corner. Rubber meets the road in the judges room. There was plenty of opportunity to coach them and teach them before the judging room. It’s their turn to shine. :slight_smile:

For youth protection reasons, I never prohibit a responsible adult/parent from being anywhere their children are, BUT you cannot have adults interfering in the judging process. Judges should tell the team at the start of judging that if the adults talk (or signal students in any way) that this will affect their judging results. I can’t think of a time that this happened, but it is possible that a team could effectively be eliminated from judged awards if adult interference was too great.

For our team during the Toss Up season, out Engineering Notebook was a season changer. Because of having an Engineering Notebook, we were gifted the Excellence Award at the Arkansas State Competition. This award qualified us for Worlds! (However, I was not apart of the team for the Toss-Up season.) Ever since then we have made the Notebook a HUGE priority, and it has helped us in numerous ways.