After our recent qualification for the San Diego regional championship, we felt that we ought to get some outside help so that we could qualify for world championships.
We asked ourselves, “Who would know about qualifying for worlds?” Of course, the obvious answer would be the winners of the Inspire award from the previous season, but would they talk to a small team like ours? They did!
We sent the Landroids a message asking for tips on making our engineering notebook better, and here is what they said:
Hi Fletcher/Suit Bots,
Your website blog is probably one of the best we have seen in years. Our team doesn’t have time to blog anymore, so our website is in a standstill, but yours have constant new content and reflections, documenting your team’s activities diligently. Very nice!
Printing out the blog pages is very similar to doing an electronic engineering notebook. However, engineering notebook is different from a team journal. While the notebook can include team’s journal, activities and achievements, a big part of it should be in the engineering designs. You do have those sketches and video blogs that shows your design process nicely, but the hyperlinks would not be active in the paper copy, which is a major disadvantage to overcome.
While our team might enjoy reading your blogs, the judges really don’t have time to read a long journal entries during the judging session. They flip through the pages quickly, look for the photos that will catch their eyes on your designs. Tagging the most important entries and add a table of content will help leading them to locate those pages you want them to look at first. Keep the paragraphs short, always have captions below the photos to explain what they are about will help them understand the content quickly.
Another way to see the effectiveness of your engineering notebook is ask yourself these questions:
1. If there is a potential to patent your design, is the information in the notebook clearly documented the proprietary data?
2. If someone needs to reconstruct a part of the robot, can that person look at your notebook and be able to recreate what you have made?
3. If you see another team has a same/similar design, can you pinpoint it in your engineering notebook that your team had perhaps developed this idea first? (Always happened to our team).
Landroids kept our engineering notebook from the last 5 years (since our FLL days), those were the 3 main reasons why we need to go back to our engineering notebooks constantly. It is not for the judging award, it is more for our internal design record and patent applications.
Overall, we are very impressed with what your team have done. Keep up the good work, we will see you at the Worlds!
Clearly, there is some flattery in this email, but it will be extremely helpful for making our notebook better.