The following is the engineering design process which all Idaho TECH teams should observe. This process must be reflected both in the Mars Rover display and presentation created by each team, as well as the requisite lab notebook which each team must maintain throughout its participation in Idaho TECH.
This step should include general statements or questions which correlate with the testing criteria, such as "How might a Rover store rock samples which it collects from the ground?" More specific problems will likely be identified as a Rover is being constructed, and these problems will be addressed via the testing and revising of Rover design.
The goals set by the engineering team should be as specific as possible and should address the general problems they initially identified. One goal might be stated as follows: "Our Rover will be able to store a minimum of 10 rock samples."
The key to brainstorming is to remember that no idea is a bad idea! Each idea, no matter how off-the-wall it seems, should be recorded during the brainstorming session. Encourage the students to be creative, because the more ideas that are generated, the more likely it is that a successful design will result. Brainstorm sessions may be carried out individually or as a group.
After the brainstorming phase, the group should decide which ideas it likes best, and then construct a prototype which incorporates these ideas into its design.
After an initial prototype has been constructed, it must be thoroughly tested in order to ascertain both its strengths and its weaknesses. Most likely, you will discover that some ideas which you thought were absolutely wonderful didn't work at all. At this stage, you should consider more specific problems, such as "Why do the collected rocks fall out of the Rover every time it goes up a hill?" The team must then begin brainstorming ways to deal with the problem and/or incorporate one or more of the alternate ideas which were brainstormed earlier. The process of testing and revising will undoubtedly have to be carried out many, many times in every area of your Rover design!
After your Rover has been exhaustively tested and countless revisions have been carried out to create a working vehicle, it is time to show everyone your creation! Participation in the Preliminary Design Competition, and especially the creation of a display and presentation for your Rover, will provide others with the opportunity to admire the results of your labor.