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EPICS Design Notebook and Overview

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The PowerPoints in this section were created as a three part workshop for EPICS students in a study abroad program. These materials cover the three primary types of writing EPICS students are expected to complete: a design notebook, a project charter, and travel writing.

The Design Notebook PowerPoint stress the importance of reliable, relevant and consistent documentation as the key to successful design notebooks and professional practice in general, as well as the basic guidelines of the assignment (in handout form).

The Project Charter PowerPoint, as well, covers the EPICS assignment guidelines. Additionally, it covers professional standards for such documents and offers guidelines for group writing.

The final PowerPoint briefly covers Travel Writing.

Additional materials including further guidelines and a conciseness exercise are also included.

A design notebook is used to record information acquired and ideas developed during the design process. It demonstrates individual accomplishments and work completed on a project. However, although the design notebook can provide details and information related to the project for future teams, the Project (Design) Documentation should be the primary source of the project information. Relevant information from the design notebooks should also be contained in the Project (Design) Documentation.

Design notebook contents: What goes in the design notebook?

  • Record your work on the project, including brainstorming, sketches, calculations, designs, and action items.
  • Record project meetings, including team sessions and working group (subgroup) sessions. Include agendas, major discussion items, and action items that result from the meeting.
  • Record relevant information and discussions from EPICS lectures.
  • Record contact information (name, phone number, email, address — whatever is relevant) for people with whom you consult about the project. Record information about conversations with the project partner. Record outcomes from all relevant conversations, including phone and email conversations.
  • Use the design notebook to keep detailed records of library and patent searches and to record relevant URLs resulting from WWW searches.
  • For software, describe the work done and give the location where the software can be found.
  • If documents are too big to insert, note what they contain and where they can be found.
  • Include important information that your team has compiled that pertains to the project.
  • Include conclusions and recommendations.
  • Include enough narrative to explain what is being done; make entries readable by other people in your discipline. How is the information relevant?
Factoid: Thomas Edison completed over 2500 design notebooks in his lifetime.

Why keep a design notebook?

  • The design notebook documents your effort on a project. For EPICS projects, it is the principal evidence of your individual effort and is therefore an important factor in your course grade.
  • Design notebooks may be used in patent and legal evaluations.
  • The design notebook is a useful resource for preparing reports.
  • Since EPICS projects span several semesters/years, the design notebook helps you recall things from one semester to the next.
Factoid: In the U.S., patents are awarded based on evidence of "first to discover"; in most other countries, patents go to the "first to file".

Design notebook format

  • Put your name, phone number, and email address on the front cover.
  • Recommended: Pre-number the pages in the notebook.
  • Use ink. Write legibly.
  • Date all entries.
  • Recommended: Sign each page. This is relevant for patents.
  • Tape or staple documents (e.g., handouts, meeting agendas) into the notebook.
  • Record directly into the notebook; do not make notes on other pieces of paper and transcribe them into the notebook later. (Exception: computer printouts)
  • Include narrative to describe sketches, diagrams, plots, and equations.