Robot Design Process

Our team uses the Engineering Design Process as it relates to the FIRST® Build Season. We do exercises in preseason and plan build season around the Engineering Design process. Here is a summary of the Design Process as it relates to Engineering and FIRST.

1. Identify the need or problem

    • The Kickoff Event provides a description of the game
    • Each team then needs to identify what their strategy will be to play the game

2. Identify the Criteria and Constraints

    • Function Requirements
      • The robot must be able to score baskets
    • Design constraints
      • Robot must be no bigger than 28 X 38 in base

3. Specification Ranking

    • Determine what is the most important
      • Use a weighted objective table

4. Brainstorm Design Concepts

    • Draw and talk about ideas with in groups
      • Remember, there are no bad ideas!

5. Construct a prototype*

    • Model the selected solution(s) in two and three dimensions
    • Many teams prototype designs in wood or other simple materials to see if concepts work.
    • Have fun with this part!

6. Select an Approach

    • Which worked the best?
      • If deciding with a large group, a weighted objective table is great for this as well!

7. Detailed Design

    • CAD Everything!
    • Think about the small stuff too!
      • This is a big part because you don’t want to get through the designs and into building only to find that parts do not work together

8. Manufacturing & Implementation

    • This is the part where everything comes together
      • Your robot gets built
      • Your plan implemented

9. Analyze the Results

    • Compare to your expectation, did it live up to what you thought it would be?
      • Did your robot drive as fast as you thought it would, did it score as many hoops as you had thought it would?

10. Refine the Design

    • Determine what was wrong
    • Go back and fix it!
    • Don’t be afraid to start over when you can
    • Don’t get stuck in a rut with your ideas!


Although in the typical Engineering Design Process a solution is usually selected and then prototyped, if the manpower and material is available, and if there is a a very short amount of time for rework, Steps 4 & 5 can be switched. Most FIRST teams will actually do several prototypes in parallel in order to select the best robot design.*

Here is a link to our team’s Engineering Design Process Presentation