What is an Engineering Notebook?

Our new teams need direction on what a good engineering notebook should be. With the rule changes this year the engineering notebook carries more weight, so it is important to understand what the judges are expecting.
If you search on the VEX IQ and REC websites you will eventually find these three references: [LIST=1]

  • Design Award Rubric.
  • Robotics Engineering Notebook sample entries.
  • Team design notebook example video. [/LIST] The design award rubric makes a lot of sense and is very flexible, but there’s not much detail. The other two resources have more content, but go in a different direction. None of them actually say what the purpose of the engineering notebook is.

    The sample pages of the Robotics Engineering Notebook seem more appropriate for a patent application (witnessed by signatures, cross hash and initial all blank areas…) than a VEX IQ team, and the example video is similar. They both recommend a bound notebook that is shared by the entire team and is hand written in permanent ink. That’s just not practical. In tomorrow’s world there will still be a place for individuals to keep personal handwritten notebooks, but I doubt that any group of engineers will share a single notebook for collaborative design work.

    Many IQ teams use a looseleaf notebook, because it works. Content from different sources can be added as the season progresses. Looking at the Design Award Rubric this approach seems acceptable. The rubric does not preclude notebooks that are kept electronically and then printed either. The example notebook from two years ago looks like it was done that way. What is important is that the notebook shows the design progression and tells the story of the robot, the team, and their journey. http://www.roboticseducation.org/doc…team-5509a.pdf

    So what are the judges instructed to look for in an engineering notebook? Do they follow the rubric, or are they looking for a hard bound hand written notebook?

  • You have identified the resources that are available to guide students in effectively documenting their learning throughout their robotics engineering design process. VEX IQ judges will use the Design Award rubric as a tool to evaluate the quality and completeness of the engineering notebooks. You are correct that the notebooks can be completed in whatever format that works best for student use, as well as facilitates the review by event judges.

    The Engineering Notebook and Design Award resources are available on the VEX IQ Teams page.

    Thank you!