We have a lot of writing, some sketches, and a little bit of our calculations. What are some things you would add to make the notebook better? What are some hacks and tips you would suggest to beginners for the notebook? Anything extra?
Keep it simple:
- identify a problem - describe the game and team strategy for the season
- discuss solutions (note it is more than one) -
- pick the best (better to support the decision with something like a decision matrix)
- prototype/test idea
Our team has many artifacts - sketches, as built drawings, material lists, timing sheets for autonomous plans, robot performance evaluation (speed trials), etc. All to show growth of the design over time.
That team, and teams before it, has done well with that approach.
Most importantly, it is not something you do the night before, it is a document that shows the growth of the team and its design process.
Download the judges guide: https://www.roboticseducation.org/documents/2018/09/vrc-judge-guide-2018-19.pdf and look on page 21 and 22 for the Design Award Rubric. This is the first thing judges will look at when reviewing your engineering notebook. Write your notebook (which you should have been doing from the start of the season, of course) so that each of the rubric items are covered (and easy for the judges to find), and your team will stand out as a candidate for the Design or Excellence Award. The actual decision between outstanding teams will be made based on the interviews, so don’t discount the importance of the interview process.
Here’s an article about notebooks that might be helpful: https://renegaderobotics.org/engineering-notebook-design-award/
Don’t just put the good things in the notebook. Include the things you learned from, and how you learned from them (meaning… the things that broke, failed or didn’t work). This is what actually happens in life.
Charts, pie graphs and Matrixs(es?) when it comes to data all can catch the eyes of judges. Just make sure they are accurate and colored
I agree. Highlighting the design process with graphics (matrices, averages, time trials) helps to attract attention to all phases of development in your program.
Using detailed analysis can be the difference between average and exceptional in the Notebook’s judged quality. If you include detailed diagrams and statistics, make sure you understand them completely. If you are unfamiliar with a concept, Judges will pick up on it in a heartbeat if they have seen your notebook.
The notebook needs to be useful to your team in terms of design and time/team management. If you make a diary that merely records what was done without rationale, then it is not a good notebook. If you actually develop your design (and eliminate other design options) based on the charts/sketches/words/pictures/calculations in the notebook, then Judges will see it and respond favorably. There are no hacks.
With me, I avoid using colored pencils and markers because it doesn’t look professional. I only use black pen, and if illustrations look bland I grab different colored highlighters to make parts look distinct.
Make sure that you follow the rubric exactly, and make the answers obvious so the judges can see without putting much effort. I am now making one-pagers in the notebook to summarize key points of a topic discussed previously.