Re: Design Sharing
Here are my sencere opinions on the subject:
During the season: No design sharing. Teams can feel free to view old pictures, old designs from previous years, or whatever. However, teams should all innovate on their own as to how to adapt these old designs (and create new innovations) for the current game. If teams need help with something specific, like a gearbox, there are plenty of designs from previous years to help you.
I feel this way for three reasons: 1) I feel that teams should innovate a little on their own so they get the full blown experience of what it's like to be an engineer - to solve a problem that hasn't been solved before without outside help; 2) once everyone sees a great solution for the game at hand, we'll get a bunch of cookie cutter robots - who wants that?; and 3) from a purely selfish standpoint - I LOVE the surprise of all of the new designs at the first regionals.
After the start of the season, it's virtually impossible to keep the designs a secret. Everyone has a digital camera these days and with a few good pictures, you can copy the majority of any design (except software, of course). With that in mind - go crazy and share whatever you wish - I'm all for it, as long as it's after the build season.