[FTC]: Engineering Notebook

For the past three seasons our team’s engineering notebook had been electronic. But this year we’re thinking about changing it up since it’s easier to record handwritten computations and drawings.

Which one does your team prefer and why?

Exploding Bacon uses a book, we will record it on the computer first (sometimes) and then will rewrite it all back into the book. I know it seems redundant but we like our book it even has “Team 1902 Exploding Bacon” Stamped into the cover! :smiley: And I actually preferred writing in the book vs. typing when I was on the team. I got to sit back and relax as I wrote my ridiculously long entires about the robot and its design! :smiley: … This was of course when I didn’t have a robot to work on. :stuck_out_tongue:

And tell me, how often was that? :wink:

Anyway, my team has historically always written in a book, but I’m considering pushing for an electronic notebook this year, as I make my sketches in GIMP and my (large number of) typos will be easier to find.

Not very often which is why I only did like 2-3 entries that were something like 5-10 pages long…

They were about design processes and concepts throughout the season with lots of pretty renders and explanations.

Yeah… One of the reason why I’m considering handwritten is because so I can jog down stuff about engineering / designing whenever I want. The only problem with that is I will then have to print out all the pictures and paste all of them in the notebook.

I’m thinking about getting a lab notebook for personal scribbles, then organized and make it look pretty on the computer. :smiley:

Since I’m doing FTC and VEX, that should work out pretty good I think because that would keep most of the stuff separate so FIRST judges won’t discriminate. :stuck_out_tongue: (Not that they do but they are competitors after all… And our school kind of “contributed” a lot to VEX, as in hosting tournaments and stuff like that, well, at least definitely more than towards FTC anyway)

Now all I need is a scanner so I can put my not-so-understandable drawings in the engineering journal…

The Techno Guards used an electronic one. We had a camera at ALL of our meeting and took pictures of anything we wrote on white boards, or any other “chicken scratches” and just put those straight in.

The team opened it up for others to see. You can see it at the team’s web site: http://www.technoguards.org/EngineeringView


In real life one of the most important reasons to keep a log book is for recording patentable ideas properly. Rewriting the information might be done to create a neat version of the info; but the crucial version is the initial handwritten version. I suppose electronic tools are now useful for keeping records, but I have a hunch that they aren’t as valuable as a handwritten log on sequentially numbered pages in a bound book.

Don’t worry about making everything pretty. Instead make it useful. Show consistent iteration to progress toward (and beyond) clearly stated performance goals that are derived from a clearly expressed strategy (the strategy can/should also be iterated), and you will impress judges that are looking past superficialities to find real evidence of the “Engineering” part of keeping a notebook.

In the real world very, very few people have time to make notebooks pretty. I believe good judges will look for notebooks that were used, rather than notebooks that were created.

PS: In the real world many, many engineers don’t keep notebooks. In plenty of contexts, just about all professionals record notes using various tools and media; but “notebooks” are hardly universal, and pretty notebooks are very rare. So again, my advice is to show a notebook that was a useful tool, not one that looks like a hothouse orchid. Don’t confuse style with substance.