MasterMind Deb Rout, Het Mehta, Luthfi Bustillos, and Stephanie Hsieh

NC Museum of Arts and Sciences

Needed a new building and contacted us, the MasterMind team. The building had guidelines that needed to be met


Danny Nguyen: Customer/Sponsor

Stephanie Hsieh: Project Manager

Het Mehta: Finance Manager

Debahutee Rout: Documentation Manager

Luthfi Bustillos: Communications Manager



  • Tower needs to be built with a budget of:
I am all you got
  • Free Standing
Built in:

We could only use select materials

Spaghetti, String, Tape, Marshmallows

Had to be Aesthetically pleasing

Also had to unique
  • The Tower had to be at least 35 inches
  • Hold two exhibits, each weighing 12 grams
  • The objects have to be at least 4 inches above ground

We had some limitations

  • Stick to the specified materials
  • Produce complete model that meets all success criteria on December 7th

We also had risks

  • Running out of budget for materials

Running out of time

Structure Falls or can't support weight

Work Breakdown Structure

Budget Estimation

Prototype Estimate

Prototype Actual

Final Build Estimate

Final Build Actual

Total Spend......

Project Schedule

Gantt Chart

Design Process


Managing communications


  • Be honest and realistic in planning and reporting the project scope, schedule, staffing, and cost
  • Notify the customer/sponsor of any changes in the project which would affect them
  • Keep all the team members informed about the project all the time
  • Focus on what is best for the project all the time
  • Meet the project deadlines
  • See the project through to completion


  • Be honest and open during the meetings
  • Encourage the diversity in design ideas
  • Give everyone the opportunity for equal participation
  • Be open to new approaches and listen to new ideas
  • We will solve all problems as a team and won’t put the blame on any one person in case of failures. Instead we will discuss the process and explore different ways to solve it.


  • Seek first to understand and then to be understood
  • Be precise and to the point
  • Keep discussions on track
  • Use visual means such as sketches and drawings of design ideas to facilitate discussion
  • Use emails and Google Hangouts for communication amongst ourselves
  • Meet once a week in person to discuss the progress of the project.

Problem Solving

  • Build on each others ideas
  • Use team tools when appropriate to facilitate problem solving

Decision Making

  • Discuss criteria (cost of materials, time, impact etc.) for making a decision before choosing a particular design for the tower.
  • Get input from the entire team before making a decision
  • Discuss concerns with other team members during the team meetings
  • Ask other team members if they completely agree with the decision before it is made final.

Handling Conflict

  • Regard conflicts as part of the project and treat them as opportunities to do better
  • Choose an appropriate place and time to talk about the conflicts
  • State our points of view in a non-attacking manner
  • Seek to find some common ground for agreement & listen to others point of view with an open mind.

Meeting Guidelines

  • Meetings will be held every week
  • Meetings will be called by the Project Manager
  • Minutes of the meetings will be posted by the Project Manager
  • Meetings will begin and end on time
  • All the team members are expected to make it to the meeting unless they are busy with at work or have some other unavoidable circumstances



We met with the customer halfway through the process and he said we weren't unique enough.....

We brainstormed ideas, and went back to the drawing board in order to please our customer

After looking through many designs we came up with the following decisions..

  • Flared top for uniqueness
  • Flag pole for extra height
  • Triangular cross section for uniqueness and to free up sticks to use elsewhere
  • Double sticks on the lowest section for stability and strength

Design of Building...

Monitoring and Controlling

Prep Day

  • Everyone reviewed the design
  • Reviewed roles and delegation work
  • Prepped a final sketch and list of materials (and what size of the sticks had to be snapped into) as to reference for everyone


Halfway through the tower we decided that the bottom marsmallows had to be large, so extracting and replacement was needed

We quickly swapped out the small marshmallows with the large ones

Top flared section needed extra support (internal sticks), off-center because the soft marshmallows proved tricky to work with

Overall we planned well but challenges were expected

TeamWork In Action

Outstanding Items


Lessons Learned

These were our key takeaways from this project:

We had 2 meetings every week. One in-person meeting and one remote meeting. This was really beneficial as it kept us on schedule and it made the planning and decision phase of our project very smooth

We had several prototypes for our design, we made sketches and did calculations for the dimensions of the tower and how much each design would cost us. This proved really helpful as we were able to keep well within our budget. We used $18 for prototyping and $77 for our final tower.

Communication is the main key for success of a team. Our project manager was very considerate of all the ideas suggested by the team members and this really helped us achieve our goal for this project

Before building the tower on the final day, we had distributed our activities. We had a clear idea of who would be in charge of what activity. This helped us complete our project smoothly without anything going out of control.

Mega Design



Created with images by Akyan - "Playing a spot of Jenga #dcep" • aministracion - "spaghetti pasta texture" • ERguille - "office scotch tape still life" • zimpenfish - "Marshmallows" • egarc2 - "the Jenga" • Cooperweb - "Money"

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