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Engineering Notebook Competition


A prize will be awarded at the National Finals to a team that skillfully crafts an engineering notebook that documents their design cycle for the Team America Rocketry Challenge. Every team is eligible to submit an engineering notebook and win this prize, regardless of whether it is selected as a national finalist.

Engineering notebooks are used by aerospace engineers, research institutions, government laboratories and many other organizations. A good engineering notebook details the entirety of an engineering project, from the initial concept designs to the fully operational system. A well designed notebook should allow a person familiar with the contest and rocketry to follow your design process from beginning to end and successfully reproduce a copy of your rocket at any stage in your design cycle. The notebook should be a running record of your design process, compiled as you go through the design process rather than retrospectively.

In some cases the settlement of an intellectual property dispute may come down to the records contained in an engineering notebook. As a result, engineers don’t ever white-out material in their notebook or remove pages. If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it. Simply place a single line through the error and continue below. Likewise, when you finish an entry place a large X on the remainder of the page to prevent new content from being added to the notebook after the fact. While we don’t expect any of your rockets to get embroiled in a patent dispute, we still want you to practice the standards used within the aerospace industry. They may come in handy some day!

The rules and guidelines for this competition were created to closely match how professional engineering notebooks are created. Even if your team chooses not submit a notebook for the Engineering Notebook Competition, we still recommend you keep a notebook and follow this structure. It will help your team order your thoughts and be deliberate about your design process.

You can view example notebooks below:


Frog Pond Aeronautics (Well documented test flights)

Sunnyvale Blue (A very detailed and thorough notebook)

Exousia (Impressive pre-work and planning)


Space Potatoes (Winners of the 2016 Engineering Notebook Competition and 2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge/International Rocketry Challenge Champions)

A Bunch of Cool Dudes (Another example of a well-documented notebook)



Notebooks will be evaluated by a panel of engineers from sponsor companies using this rubric.

Remember: document your work, keep your notebook organized, keep it professional, and have fun on your mission!

The rules and guidelines for this competition were created to closely match how professional engineering notebooks are created. Even if your team chooses not submit a notebook for the Engineering Notebook Competition, we still recommend you keep a notebook and follow this structure. It will help your team order your thoughts and be deliberate about your design process.



Create an engineering notebook that documents your TARC endeavor. Write about your team’s rocket concepts and designs, the reasons why certain mission critical actions were taken, and the results of your rocket testing. The Engineering Notebook Competition is optional, and will not impact team eligibility for the National Finals.

Contest Rules


The entry for the Engineering Notebook Competition must come from a team that has registered for TARC 2018 competition. A limit of one entry per team may be submitted for the Engineering Notebook Competition (a single entry may contain multiple physical notebooks if your content fills more than one book). No part of any of the activities for the engineering notebook may be done by any adult, by a company (except for the sale of standard off-the-shelf bound notebooks).

Notebook Requirements

Engineering notebooks submissions may either be electronic or physical. Physical notebooks must be no less than 203.2mm (8.0 inches) by 254mm (10.0 inches), and must not exceed 254mm (10.0 inches) by 304.8mm (12.0 inches). Notebooks should be hardbound. Loose leaf binder compositions are not permitted.  You may use any notebook that meets these specifications. An example is provided here. A budget option is available here.

Electronic submissions should be a scanned page by page copy of an original hard copy notebook. Pages must be numbered and all notebook entries must be made in pen, contain titles, and the full date (Month Day, Year) in the upper outer corner of each entry. New entries must be made on a new page of the notebook and remain in chronological order. Entries must be made neatly and with enough detail that another person familiar with rocketry could replicate your process and results. The initials of each team member who is present during each entry must be documented in addition to the dated signatures of both the student team leader and the team supervisor (if present).

Title Page

The title page must be contained on either the inside cover of the notebook or the first page. The title page must include the team name, team members (with the identification of the team leader), the teacher/adult supervisor, the date the engineering notebook was created, contact information of the team, and the volume of the notebook should there be more than one notebook created as part of the Competition.

Table of Contents

A 2-3 page table of contents must be added after the front of the notebook. Each entry, and its corresponding page number, should be contained within the table of contents.


All entries must be recorded as they occur. Group meetings, discussions, ideas, questions, and notes may be included as part of the engineering notebook. References to relevant articles or research findings must be made such that the reference can easily be retrieved by another person familiar with rocketry. The contents of the notebook should contain preliminary rocket plans, flight data, evaluation of the flight data, modifications to rocket plans, and the reasoning behind project decisions. If you finish an entry before the end of a page within a notebook, draw a large X taking up the remainder of the page.  This prevents new content from being added to the notebook after the fact.

Rocket Designs

Rocket schematics must contain dimension, material, and fabrication process information. Rocket designs may be drawn directly into the notebook. Rocket designs that are completed electronically may be printed and affixed to the notebook. The dimensions of the rocket must be labeled in millimeters. Materials information for each of the displayed components of the rocket design must be given. Fabrication processes and or sourcing information for all non-trivial parts of the rocket should be included.

Flight Data

For each flight taken record the relevant current environmental conditions, the flight location, the team members who are present, adult supervisors or mentors who are present, the details of the rocket that is being tested (including rocket name, dimensions, pre-flight rocket mass, chosen engine and lot number), and the details any circumstances that may affect the flight as needed. After the flight, record the peak altitude reading from the altimeter, the duration of the flight, the status of each of the eggs, the status of the rocket, the calculated TARC score, post-flight rocket mass, and any other flight information as needed.

Rocket Modifications

Modifications that are made to the rocket must be documented. Your notebook entry should specify the reasons for the modifications and the specific components of the rocket that were modified. You must also specify if a new flight vehicle was constructed, and the reason for the construction of the new vehicle.

Affixed Materials

Materials that are affixed to the notebook must be securely attached with clear tape or staples. This may be done by taping each corner of the materials that are to be affixed to the notebook. Affixed materials should contain the date they were added, titles, the reason for their addition to the notebook, a description, and be initialed by the team leader.


Errors in the notebook should not be omitted from the submission. Correction tape or white out should not be used to write over errors that are present. Errors may be corrected by crossing them out with an X or a single line. Errors should still be legible despite the X or single line. Pages should not be removed from the notebook.


Updates that specifically reference previous entries may be made by creating a new entry, referencing the page number that the update pertains to, and continuing the entry as normal.


Physical engineering notebooks should be postmarked no later than April 6, 2018. Physical engineering notebooks must be addressed to AIA’s Office, located at 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1700, Arlington, Virginia, 22209. Electronic submissions must be in PDF format and emailed to no later than April 6, 2018. If your PDF exceeds 10 megabytes, please host the file online and provide access instructions in your submission email.

If you submit a physical notebook and wish for it to be returned at the end of judging, please include a self-addressed envelope or box sufficient to enclose your notebook as part of your submission.


Engineering notebooks will be scored by a panel of engineers from TARC sponsor companies based upon their legibility, organization, content, and adherence to the TARC Engineering Notebook rules


The team with the best engineering notebook score, that submitted at least two valid qualifying flights, will receive a plaque and a cash prize. While the award will be announced at the National Finals, non-finalists are also eligible for this prize.  Should no entry be judged satisfactory, TARC reserves the right to decline to award a prize.

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