All engineering projects begin in the minds of the collaborators. In nearly every case, the engineering design process follows the same general path:
Step 1: Define the problem and set the goal
Step 2: Brainstorm possible designs to solve the problem or achieve the goal
- No team can hope to build a robot without an idea of what they're trying to solve or achieve. This step is incredibly important to keeping a team focused on the task at hand.
Step 3: Proof of concept/Design tests and ratings
- Work in smaller groups or as a whole to generate as many potential designs as possible. Don't ignore ideas that are unfeasible! Use them as stepping stones to other designs.
Step 4: Design modification
- Build first drafts of designs if possible and test them in real-time experiments. Use a definite set of guidelines to rate designs equally. Comparing designs in a table is an excellent way to do this.
Step 5: Final Product
- Don't be afraid to modify a design! No design will be perfect initially. This is the chance to account for unexpected errors, to increase efficiency, or to modify a design according to a change in strategy. In some cases, consider beginning the engineering process over again.
- A "final product" doesn't have to be final. If design flaws are discovered close to game day, return to the modification stage. A robot can be perfected in the pit on game day if that's what it takes. Most importantly, don't get discouraged!
The following pages include notes on our team's design process that will take you through each step as we reach them. Important documents will also be attached.