Engineering Notebooks

What is the best way to do an engineering notebook? I have seen teams doing physical notebooks, powerpoint presentations, typing them up and printing them out…

My team uses Google Docs to create our notebook. It is easy to insert drawings and charts, stats from google sheets, and allows for anyone from the team to edit the notebook from any mobile device or computer.

All of the above works. Some places like physical notebooks to prove you actually kept a notebook over time.

But supplemental materials helps explain the story of your design better at times

We also use google docs to do our notebook. There is a really big push in Nebraska for a hand drawn notebook, but we are try to make a stand.

 In the 80's, 90's, and maybe even in the 2000's, all engineering logs were hand written, but right now, every thing is going digital. Yes, learning to write up documents is a good skill to learn, but it doesn't prepare you for the future very well. Hand writing is "old-fashioned" and less professional.

Hand writing pros: Proof that the students did the work.
Hand writing cons: Doesn’t look professional. Does not train you very well for the future.

Typing pros: Looks professional. Easy to add pictures, graphs, and make changes.
Typing cons: Does not prove that the students did the work.

In my own personal opinion, the notebook should be typed. However, this is a VERY controversial subject, and it all depends on the judges. I hope this helps :slight_smile:

Good timing; at this point, it seems to depend on what the event partners allow. I’m hoping to get an official call on what is considered a notebook at Worlds here: [ You may not want to consider doing anything but the traditional bound paper notebook until an official call is made.

If there isn’t an official way to go paperless for this season, hopefully VRC will provide guidelines to go paperless for 2016-2017.

Quite the opposite, it is a fundamental rule of notebooking that it is almost always hand written. That way they can see all the mistakes you’ve made and sketches also.

My team does two different things for the notebook. We have a typed portion in the front with a summary of our team and a indepth summary of each of the robots mechanisms. Then we have a handwritten portion with a day to day log and all our math/sketches. This looks both professional and proves that we have done it. This pleases both types of judges and we have recieved many judged awards because of it.

We type our notebook, but also have some pages in the back with hand drawings on them.

We do have skeches, but do the judges really want to see all the mistakes we have made? Also, everyone on my team, including myself, has terrible handwriting :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

You write down an engineering notebook because technically it is a legal documentbto prove you designed your robot. It is the industry standard because you cannot edit the page once it has been signed and witnessed, and thus you have espionage protection. At my school we only have bound professional engineering graph notebooks and they blow anything printed or loose leaf out of the water. At some competitions we have all 9 teams considered for design and multiple considered for excellence because we document well and organized in these notebooks. Handwriting, when not sloppy and when organized on the page looks very professional. I could give a sample of my notebook if someone asks.

Would you mind posting a page? Our team has never been good with engineering notebooks.

My strategy is to include real life examples such as comparing baseball to NBN launching. And a surplus of calculations is a HUGE help. If you include these, you will most likely have a higher chance of getting design award.

YES! There is an actual professional engineer in our state who is teaching REAL engineering notebook protocols to any team who is interested.

YES! A huge part of the engineering process is making mistakes and showing how you solved them. Engineering Notebooks should not look like a technical manual, instead they document the engineering process.

Have you won any award at the world championship? Saying you blow printed notebooks out of the water seems like something the world excellence winner could say. I know I won Worlds judges award and my notebook was entirely typed. I find something typed shows it was given methodical care for a long period of time and is more likely to be contributed to by multiple team members.

Tabor survey, ongoing
2059 world divisional excellence winner-typed
AURA VEXU world championship excellence - typed
OYES VEXU world championship excellence - typed
7581H High School world championship excellence -final typed with individual handwritten portions.

Okay so I just checked.

Your team has never won an award. High Five

Not really sure where this idea comes from. There’s no reason you can’t type out your mistakes and scan in drawings…

I don’t think a handwritten notebook proves anything. What’s stopping me from copying someone else’s design and faking the entire design process in my notebook? And are you seriously talking about “espionage protection”? We are doing high school robotics, not working for a multi-billion dollar engineering company…

I’ve noticed that there is a pretty big variance between judged awards at competitions. Oftentimes, there is just no way to predict what judges want to see in a notebook because the judges change from competition to competition. Some judges may have an affinity for handwritten books and others may prefer drawings instead of pictures. There’s just no way to predict what will win a particular judge over to your team’s documentation. I would just do whatever works best for your team. Your notebook’s content is way more important than its format.

We actually won design at the Bull Run Middle School tournament, over other notebooks that are following the same method we are, which is what 1575A used to get the design award in their division last year. Most of the notebooks(almost all loose leaf and printed) in our area are almost garbage because they follow no known protocols and sloppily written, or are done entirely by parents. The only reason we did not get design earlier is because 1575A had a notebook unlike anything I’ve seen before, and did not have a robot to compete for excellence, but attended our competitions with us. Also my team is mostly freshman and a new team to this year.
My previous team was 1575D which won 6 excellence awards (including the state excellence award) last year using the same method of documentation. The only difference between then and now was we had a better builder last year who graduated.

However, I do stand thoroughly corrected in the area of typed notebooks. In my region, a typed notebook is usually a sign of laziness, or a lack of effort, because these notebooks do not usually include the details even a middle school handwritten notebook would.
I have also included the engineering notebook work we did for the CAD challenge this year here.

Our team, 9791C has won multiple design and excellence awards at the middle school level. Also my previous team 9791 won the Design Award at our local regionals. We fully document on paper at meetings and then later type it up on Google Docs. But we always include original documents and drawings at the back of our book so that the judges can appreciate the constant note taking of our team.

Hand written notebooks with formalized documentation and analysis have gotten my team (not just 3946A but also 3946W, 3946R, and 3946E) many excellence and design awards, 5 of which at worlds and 2 overall design awards.

I think many people miss the point over engineering notebooks. Our team’s daily notebook is hand written, but we also include typed appendices on various systems and programming as well. The bigger deal is are you using your notebook to Engineer or are you using it to “try to win awards.” No matter who is building or programming our robots they are always on point and know what needs to be done. The reason is each day we work on and utilize the notebook as a guide. To make decisions we use data and research that gets put in the notebook which also means we can go back and reevaluate decisions without doing to same data mining. Now I’m not saying that what our team does is the best at all, but if you are just trying to win awards then either hand written or typed work, but if you really want to benefit from the notebook then either work as well. I think from most of my conversations with judges and the posted rec rubrics the Design Process trumps any notebook style.