What makes an exceptional notebook a step above others?

Say theoretically, there are three notebooks that get a 45/45 points on the rubric, and they all meet most of the “outstanding engineering notebook” requirements presented on the judge’s guide. What would differentiate one outstanding notebook from another?

So, I’ve got two questions if anyone can help out:

  1. What happens if there are teams with the same score? I think that interview counts towards the rubric, but what else? What happens if multiple teams have the same total score?
  2. I’ve been looking on VEX Forum and other resources, but is there anything particularly innovative that not many teams do?

Thank you!

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Read the judging guide - all will be revealed :slight_smile:

  1. At this point the judges do a side-by-side comparison of the notebooks in question. We begin splitting hairs and debating the merits of the differences, plus how they align with the teams i terviews. The goal is to differentiate the notebooks enough to break the tie. I can virtually guarantee that all three 45/45 notebooks are not equal. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. One may show the evolution of each system better. One may do better illustrating the problem-solving process and alternative designs considered. One may have a mind boggling number of clear pictures, schematics, and illustrations. I have seen one team turn in well over 300 pages that did all of these and fully documented their process from the teams first meeting to the day before the competition.

If we cant do this quantatively, then the judging discussion gets really interesting as we look for qualitative ways to differentiate the teams. Each judge is a different person with their own perspective who looks for slightly different things. For examole, a CAD teacher may value detailed schematics, while an engineer may care more about the design process. Part of judging is maintaining a conscious effort to avoid or account for these personal biases.

At this level of competition, all teams in the tie may very well deserve the award. Different judges likely have different opinions on who should receive it. Ideally, the judges have a frank discussion and weigh the merits of teams openly with each other. It may come to a vote, but usually the judges can reach a consensus. It is common to leave a good judging session feeling both inspired and mentally exhausted.

  1. Many teams get caught up in the design and build process and summarize afterwards. Consistently detailed entries for each step of the design process of each subsystem are rare, especially with clear supporting images. It almost takes a dedicated sub-team including a photographer and -essentially- a design reporter to do this well. Many teams also dive into the improvements they are making without clearly identifying each problem the improvements are being made to solve.

This article in the REC Library has some good tips on improving your engineering notebook (and impressing judges at competitions).