Engineering notebooks are not a requirement for FRC. That being said, starting a strong culture of documentation and history on your team will prove to be a valuable asset going forwards. It doesn’t have to be in a notebook format, but finding ways to preserve your lessons learned and information for future seasons is valuable.
Not a necessity, there are still teams that operate with minimal or no CAD knowledge. Particularly during your first couple years or for teams focusing on simple robots built from the kit of parts chassis and COTS (off the shelf) components, it’s possible to just prototype and do basic math/geometry to figure out how to build your robot. There’s also resources like 118’s Everybot that you can follow.
However, knowing CAD will raise your design ceiling a great deal. CAD tools are more accessible than ever and can be run (to a great extent anyway) off of student laptops. While you may not need it immediately, I would start having students learn and train on CAD resources. Even if its CADing what you have already built.
It varies slightly by award, and there’s a good chance that this process may change according to COVID safety protocols at events.
Generally - the Chairman’s and Dean’s List awards are conducted at times you schedule at the event, and the presenters go off to a different space to present for these awards. These may happen over Zoom/Microsoft Teams this season as part of COVID precautions.
All the other awards are judged in your pit. Judges will come around and ask questions, and whoever is available in your pit can answer them. Usually there’s two sets of judges, one for robot-questions, and one for team-attribute questions. They may make follow up trips (or other judges working on the same awards may follow up) to get additional information. Once again, this process may change due to COVID.
This depends entirely on how much mentor/teacher/parent support you have. It’s really up to them how many students they can facilitate.