FTC Engineering Notebook Tips
Being considered for Judged Awards
Do you feel that you do a lot of work during the season, but somehow you never seem to be in the short list for the judged awards? You might need to take another look at your engineering notebook.
The Engineering Notebook is one thing that is not openly displayed by many teams, making it very difficult in many cases for other teams to get a sense of what they need to do differently. Our team has come a long way in our engineering notebook from when we started four years ago, so we thought it would be great to share some of our techniques with teams who are looking to improve or just get started.
Here is a quick look at our Engineering NB for Res-Q
Almost all judged awards including the Motivate award has an Engineering Notebook requirement. Check out the Game Manual for details on the requirements of each award.
Engineering Notebook Guidelines
This video does not cover all the requirements and guidelines for the engineering notebook in detail. For example your engineering notebook could either be handwritten on electronic (like ours). For a detailed view, check out:
- Team Section gives a background on the team members and the team’s organization.
- Engineering Design Section documents each of the engineering meetings in detail. We really try to focus on strategy behind the design, the iterative development of the components and the key learning’s. We often title our meetings as “Major Redesign” or “Bucket Redesign #4” to highlight key moments of the design process. Sketches, PTC screen captures and Pictures of the robot components are key to making this section stand out. It’s good to guide the judges through the various steps in your design process. We indicate which step in the design process each meeting falls under.
- Outreach Section documents how we promoted FIRST/STEM, engaged with experts in the industry, volunteering/hosting of tournaments, promoting through press or social media. We try to focus very much on the impact of each of the outreach activities.
- Business Section outlines the overall Team Goals, Sponsorship/Grants, Budget and Funding. Team Goals usually include how the team wants to improve in developing individual skills during the year, what we want to do differently in Community and Industry Outreach and getting Sponsorship. Remember that even if you don’t receive some of the grants that you apply for, you should still include them in your business plan.
- Managing White Space – In the examples shown in the video, you will see that all of our engineering and outreach meetings are documented in a way that limits the amount of excess white space on any page. This improves the overall appearance of the notebook.
- Document Brainstorming and Testing – One of the things that we learnt from the best teams at Worlds was how well they documented Brainstorming sessions. They would paste all the sticky notes used for the brainstorming right into the notebook. They also had lots of tables on various tests that they had done and the key findings from those tests.
Engineering Notebook Samples
Here are other Engineering Notebook Examples that are good references. Check out the Mathcad examples in the first one.
Hope this has helps some of the teams out there. The engineering notebook is a critical part of judging, and should not be overlooked by teams! Let us know what you think, and please comment if you have other tips that could help other teams.