First Year Expectations

*What to Expect Your First Year

The structure challenge has a fairly steep learning curve. There are a lot of things that a team must learn to conquer “structure”. For most teams it takes two to three years of working on the structure challenge to really get a grasp of structure. This is why many teams that compete in the structure challenge stay with the structure challenge.

Some of the basics that a first year team has to learn:

  • Which woods (or on occasion other materials) they wish to build with and the sizes of same.
  • What tools they want to work with.
  • Proper cutting and shaping techniques for the materials selected.
  • Which glues they wish to use.
  • How to properly use the glue they have chosen.
  • Best construction and assembly techniques.

While the team is mastering these construction techniques they also must be learning basic structure design concepts and applying those concepts to the specific requirements of the current years challenge. This is a lot of material for a team to master in one year. First year teams should concentrate on making sure they get their technique down because how a structure is constructed has almost as much to do with its weight bearing capacity as the design of the structure. A great design will not hold much weight if it is poorly constructed.

Another thing for new teams to consider is that while everyone on the team may want to try building structures at first it is ok if only a portion of the team ends up working on the structure. Some teams have only one or two team members who concentrate on the structure while the other team members work on the other aspects of the teams solution. While the structure is obviously very important in the final score of the team there are other scoring categories that the team should be working on for a complete solution to the challenges.

* Copied from: “Diary of a Balsa Goddess”  ©2009 Heather Compton

Diary of a Balsa Goddess by Heather Compton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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