Design Process

At the beginning of our school year, we invited a guest from NASA’s JPL Chief Executive Designer, Jason Feldman, to help plan our design process over next few meets. When we first met Jason Feldman, we corroborated on future plans and designs for our robot.

Here is a basic skeleton of the JPL Design Process:

  1. Frame the problem
  2. Extract the key requirements
  3. Brainstorm
  4. Down select out the bad ideas
  5. Architect the system
  6. Initial design of subsystems
  7. Prototype
  8. Initial Test
  9. Review problems from test
  10. Fix the problem
  11. Re-prototype
  12. Review #2
  13. Build the actual robot
  14. Test all subsystems
  15. Strategy on the field
  16. Dress rehearsal and practice with pressure
  17. Lessons learned for next year

Shortly after the meeting finished, we began to list our problems to know what we had to solve. We then extracted the key requirements to narrow down the problem. Later, we brainstormed possible solutions to the problems that we found in the previous step.  Next, we cut out all the bad options to see what our viable choices were.  Afterwards, we mapped out our system arrangements to prepare for designing. Subsequently, we started designing subsystems, using creative solutions from our brainstorming phase, not caring wether it was plausible or not. Next, we prototyped all of our ideas, using a mix of wood, plastic, and cardboard. We did lots of tests, and recorded all of the results in our notebook, and after that we had our first review, to see what needed improvement. Afterward, we began fixing our problems, step by step. Then, we hosted a second review to further improve our design even more. Next, we began our final build, using all of the progress from the previous steps. From there, we began our tests and practice matches to narrow down our final issues, until we found operational workarounds and completed our plan. Lastly, we ran through the full “dress rehearsal” and our final driver practices. In the end, we recapped all of our failures and successes, in addition to our lessons learned, to finish off the year. Our design process ensures that our robot is inventive and successful, and we’ll be sure to use it in the future.