- HAVE A GOOD NOTEBOOK
- This is your cover letter/ resume. How good this looks goes a long way toward points on the award rubric. It needs neat handwriting. Good pictures or hand drawn sketches. Use a straight edge if you are sketching, and print in color if you are using pictures. Presentation here is everything, it needs to look good because most judges are just leafing through and aren’t reading anything in detail. So eye catching drawings go a long long long way.
Link to images of the notebook:
The team’s notebook guy was an art student, I would encourage all prospective engineers to take 2D art. Learn some basic shading. As a note, adding the green was an idea we had to make the drawings come off the page more. If you do not take art, I will say he used a straight edge religiously, don’t rough sketch unless your rough sketching looks good. The Chassis page (9th image in the abum) is a good example how to make simple drawings that get the idea across without needing to be extra fancy.
- Plan/Practice the Interview
Alright your Notebook got you standing in front of the judges. Now what?
Introduce yourself and your team and what they do.
Ask the judges about themselves, this might be a good opportunity to ask what they do in their day jobs and then thank them for being there. This will tell you how technical you need to be. I usually have one to two actual engineers as judges and one person with “soft skills” that is more of a people person and knows effectively nothing about robots. They are basically the HR staff in the interview they’re important, but you don’t want to bury them in technical detail.
It’s great to go into detail about super technical stuff, but at the end of the day you need these people to understand what you discussed after you leave. so make sure you know what you are talking about and know what a acceptable level of detail is. I had my kids practice their interviews on me, the other coaches, and then we ask them to give their presentation to their parents. If you can adequately explain your robot to your mom the volunteers at the event should also be well informed after you talk to them.
- Dress nicely and match
- look like a team, good imaging is important
4.Don’t expect judges to prompt you
show up with a plan, don’t stand their awkwardly waiting for them to prompt you, many team show up with a routine and those presentations are what prompt questions. " here’s my robot, what do you want to know? " isn’t going to cut it.
- practice, practice, practice, but don’t sound like you’re on rails
- A complaint from my judges for teams that were competitive, but not good enough to win is they sound rehearsed and in a bad way.
Make sure you are animated and not monotone, make eye contact, and remember you aren’t talking to a wall.
-My kids won a excellence award because they were the only team that could actually tell judges what PID was. That is exactly what the judge (who was a software engineer) told the EP, who told me. If you are going to tell judges what your program does, don’t just throw out buzz words. If you start talking about your autonomous it might be better to explain what it does on the field rather than what you did in the computer. Bring a map of the field and physically show what your team can do. Judges that know about programing are going to be less common, but you don’t want to accidentally feed a line to one that does know something.
- Don’t go first
if judges give you an option to sign up. I would try to get interviewed not first. some people may be new and haven’t quite figure out what they’re doing yet.
My seniors last year got the Excellence award at the US Open. They had a stellar notebook and were all three very likable and personable people. They also knew what they were talking about, had practiced how to communicate it, and were able to not only tell judges about their robot, but also tell the judges who they were and how they fit on the team.