The Engineering Portfolio is a summary of a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team and what they have accomplished during their season. The portfolio is limited to 15 pages. It is the only required documentation and can be used to intrigue the judges so they want to read more detail in an Engineering Notebook (EN), if the team has one. The portfolio should only be the tip of the iceberg compared to the team's documentation, everything should be in the EN. The portfolio is a documentation tool for a team to show their journey throughout the season. It should be an example of a team's decision-making process and a record of their progress. The portfolio is meant to display all the aspects of a team’s work including, hardware, software, outreach, experiments, and any other category that is important to the team.
The important thing to remember is that all the information should be clear to the judges. They don’t have background knowledge about a team that a member does. The judges need context when reading a portfolio, so organize the content carefully and use clear wording. Visuals like pictures of the robot or design diagrams are very helpful, so add them whenever possible (a picture is worth a thousand words). It is difficult to find the balance between detailed and reader-friendly content. Especially when documenting decisions, each option should be explained and the final choice should be clear.
The Engineering Portfolio has some elements that are necessary for the competition:
- Team - a section including team member and coach bios
- Hardware - a section containing engineering content that outlines how the engineering process is used in the building of the robot
- Software - a section explaining the code development and testing process
- Outreach - a section detailing team outreach activities, like fundraising events, robot demos, community connections, company tours, etc.
In the portfolio, all parts of the team’s journey should be documented. Including hardware, software, and outreach sections is a good place to start. Highlight any sections that are important to a team by going into more detail about them.
If the team writes an EN, the portfolio should reference specific pages in the EN. The EN can be used to go into more detail that can’t be covered in the portfolio’s 15 pages. The portfolio should interest the judges in the content and make them want to learn more.
The information needs to be laid out in a clear manner so the reader can focus on the content instead of the layout. To keep entries consistent, it may be helpful to use a general template throughout the document. By using a template, the formatting won’t change between team members. Colors and graphics can also help visually organize the portfolio. Plain text is not as interesting and might bore the reader. Including colors or images can help clarify ideas and make the whole portfolio more visually appealing.
The Engineering Portfolio is necessary to be eligible for most FTC awards. The Engineering Notebook is optional. To see the list and what the documents must contain, check out the FTC Game Manual Part 1.
The Engineering Portfolio can be no more than 15 pages, plus a title page. The team number must also be on the title page. (Having the team number on everything is a good idea in case something gets lost or misplaced.) Also, the control award is not considered part of the Engineering Portfolio, but it can be referenced as well.
- Use images: They make the portfolio more appealing to look at, clarify ideas, and are more descriptive than words can be.
- Keep it concise: Bullet points and short entries will be easier to read than long paragraphs.
- Show Personality: The portfolio should be informational, but also a product of the team. Add the things that are important to the team.
- Make an extra portfolio for competitions: The portfolio will be turned in at the beginning of tournament day and will not be returned until the end of the tournament. Print an extra portfolio and EN to show pit judges and visitors
- Document all the work: The portfolio is meant to be a tool of documentation progress for a team. The judges don’t expect everything to be perfect on the first try. Show them how the team overcame challenges and improved throughout the season.
- Stay consistent: Use a standard template to keep the portfolio consistent. Make sure it is organized and clear. Decide on terminology so there isn’t confusion over one part being called multiple names.
- Use page numbers: Having page numbers on the documents helps keep them in order.
- "Game Manual Part 1" (pdf). firstinspires.org. Retrieved 8 August 2021.