unofficial: Handwritten Design Journal

Recently we received an email from our RECF regional support manager regarding the Design award at the upcoming state championship, as well as worlds. In this email it was said that

Although I understand the reason behind them not accepting electronic notebooks, I am confused as to why we are being told 3 ring binders are no longer considered notebooks. And why is it we are just now being informed of this so late in the season?

We currently, and always have used a 3 ring binder for our engineering notebook. This typed binder format has won us 2 design award and an excellence award just for this season. If the notebook was good enough to qualify us for states, why will it be scored differently at states? This just doesn’t seem right. In the past we have been very successful using a typed notebook and have even won Design at TSA Nationals in 2014, and more recently Design at Worlds this past year.

We have used a three-ring binder and have won Excellence in every tournament we have gone to. I don’t think the comp notebook is really necessary, maybe if both the notebooks have the same features/details they will choose the bound notebook over the three ring.

I can see both sides on this, however, I can say that RECF is correct in trying to get the teams to go with a handwritten journal of the type they send out. We have been given these journals for years in engineering due to patent disputes. The ink/line out method of fixing and all the other annoyances are throw backs to having to prove the validity of the date that you may have come up with a patentable idea in your laboratory notebook.
I think they confused the issue by adding things like program management into it. I’m not saying that they should’t have, but it is confusing. I guarantee you I have no GANTT charts in my patent notebook or PM stuff. For the most part it is lab data which includes experiment setup, results, meeting notes, and idea sketches.

My one concern is that team notebooks are artificial in the sense that engineering notebooks are maintained by single individual, yet RECF wants a team notebook. So until they figure out how to really balance this out, I can see the legitimacy of a team binder which has contributions from all members of a team.

As for patent disputes, courts have long accepted many sources as evidence - videos, source code, server logs etc. As long as you can authenticate the time they were created, it counts to prior art.

Just my 2 cents.

My issue is really the preference. I would be okay with both being treated equally, even though when I run events I prefer typed notebooks. To be honest most of the arguments for handwritten design journal are at least a little bit out of date.

Patent arguement- So 5 years ago the US government changed its patent policies so that there is a lot less stress on the whole dating notebooks. We now have a first to file system instead of first to invent.

Real world argument - So I have been in college for several years and worked several full time positions and I honestly can’t remember the last time I hand wrote something longer than a couple sentences. Trust me when I saw the high school students of today will see this when they get to industry.

Presentation for papers all include interesting figures and analysis. Making professional graphics and having them go seamlessly with the words and is an important skill and is more in line with the goals of notebook.

If the goal is to get more members of the team to be involved then a cloud based solution makes far more sense than a physical notebook that has to be passed around.