For every robotics challenge that my teammates and I face, we must ultimately answer the same question: How do we decide what kind of robot we should build? After facing this same daunting question, year after year, we have learned that using the engineering design process is 100% essential. Trust me, I know that it sounds boring, especially when you’d rather just start building. However, without following a structured design process, then your robotics project will simply spiral out of control. In fact, we think that the design PROCESS is the most important aspect of creating a robot, or anything, to perform a complex function. As such, we finally decided to document our approach to using the engineering design process so other kids won’t waste hundreds of hours in “design chaos.”
Recently, we authored and published “Searching For The Ideal Machine: How Strategy Drives VEX IQ Robot Design.” The book is written by kids (my robotics team members and I) for kids, and illustrates the design process that we have used to win one World Robotics Championship and two State Robotics Championships. We use the VEX IQ Highrise Challenge requirements as a case study. It is available at Amazon:
I recommend the book for Middle School kids who wish to learn more about the design process for complex projects. The book is also suitable for younger kids, if they ignore some of the sections where we discuss how complex math may be used to assess size requirements during design.