Engineering Notebook


From documenting every success and failure, to showcasing your team and robot, the Engineering Notebook is a vital part of FTC.

1. What's the point of having an Engineering Notebook?

Outside of high school robotics, engineering notebooks are an ongoing document of the entire design process of a product. Not just what worked in the end, but every idea you had, iteration you tested, and pain-staking calculation you made along the way. By the end, a complete stranger should be able to pick up your notebook and build your robot on their own using the comprehensive descriptions and extensive pictures found throughout. Having a document that can retell your season in such detail is invaluable when it is the day before competition, your drivetrain is broken, and you don't remember how you got that geartrain to mesh just right. In addition to being crucial within your team, your Engineering Notebook is essential when you compete. When you go to competition you only have 10 dedicated minutes to walk judges through your entire season. By keeping a quality EN, the judges are able to continue looking through your journey, without you in the room, and still get a clear picture of your team (and hopefully nominate you for some awards!).

An example of our Online EN.
2. Why use an online EN?

We like to use an online EN because of the easy accessibility. By keeping it all on Google Drive, each team member can at any point in the day, go on their phone and update what they changed, why they changed it and how it accomplishes one of our main team goals. Everything is clearly organized and nicely color coded, plus, you can clearly see if someone hasn't written into their spot. Also, online ENs are great if you want to go back and reference something but you can't remember when it was - just do a word search!

3. But what about physical ENs? Got any tips for that?

For some teams, people prefer physical copies of their EN. They like the tangible ability to flip through their progress and see it as a book, especially if it's clearly organized, color coded, and has a lot of pictures (which is a lot of work, but is worth the effort). Plus, it doesn't rely on a battery.

If you'd like some more extensive examples of ENs we have two examples on our Resources Page, as well as a guide on individual entries.

4. How do you get everyone to write in the EN?

Whether it's an online EN or a physical copy, getting teammates to write is hard. Honestly, the only way around that is to make sure everyone knows how important the EN actually is, in terms of team awards, and just having documentation to look back on. Typically, we assign an unofficial EN Manager to make sure everything is being accounted for.

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