As we continue to make progress on the document we're preparing for next year's team, the document has begun has to take on some character of its own. For starters, it has been dubbed "el grab papiazo" in reference to its all-encompassing, all-powerful nature. The tradition of naming our work dates back to when we first started naming our roofing ideas. To an outsider, such antics may appear counterproductive to the mission of our team to deliver high-quality, thoughtful work grounded in engineering principles. In our view, however, this perception is flawed. As we see it, you name the things you care about. We care about our work and the names are symptomatic of this passion.
Furthermore, there is some practical value to our team's antics. One of the learning challenges in preparing this document has been understanding the difference between writing for technical documentation and writing to tell a story. Next year's team will have access to all of our technical documentation. The purpose of el gran papiazo, however, is to tell a story that Peru Structures team 2021 can read and learn from. At times, the technical, precise nature of documentation is advantageous. However, such documentation often excludes the nuances of the process of arriving at the technical figures in order to preserve concision and clarity. Though el gran papiazo is on the longer side, we hope that it will prove to be readable and nuanced in order to fill in the gaps inherent in our technical documentation.
In the spirit of this nuance, in the last week, we made significant progress increasing the readability of our document. By opting for less-technical word choice, reformatting our sections to include easy-to-read charts and tables, and including personal anecdotes, we hope to provide the sort of mix of facts and nuance offered by a knowledgeable mentor. We still have work to do reformatting the end of the document and including transitions to avoid making any assumptions that might confuse next year's team. Already, though, writing el gran papiazo has been a fun and useful exercise in technical communication (and creativity - checkout the life advice in the form of Haikus).
The last week was spent diving into our documentation. We adjusted our main outline to include a background of the project and site, what ideas worked both last year and this year, and what ideas have not worked. Per Latifah’s recommendation, we aim to provide next year’s team as thorough a body of information as possible. Below are a few of the aspects we have focused on to ease the project familiarity process for the 2021 team.
By providing an overview of the tools and materials available at Chavin, Huaraz, and Lima, we’ll hopefully leave next year’s team better prepared to accurately plan how and where they will source all their materials. Additionally, both the 2019 and 2020 teams have come up with an extensive list of technical requirements. Aware that many of these specifications include project-specific terms, we define key terms such as “modularity,” “water permeability,” and “reversibility,” which define the overarching goals of our project. Defining these terms was important in terms of creating specific technical specifications that a team can test against through experimentation.
Another relevant section we have created covers things one might think would work but actually wouldn’t. These were ideas, such as ordering various large parts online, we had spent some time discussing before ultimately realizing they weren’t feasible. We hope these explanations will save the 2021 team time and allow them to get started revising requirements and prototyping as quickly as possible.
Our next steps for this week are to continue synthesizing information from previous documents, compile a video summarizing the entire document and especially our prototypes, and further sharpen the document to be concise and easy-to-read.
Well, this quarter's not starting out in the most ideal of situations. With COVID19 running rampant and all of our team members sent home, you might be asking how we will continue our project. We asked ourselves the same thing. But, refusing to produce nothing, we've come up with a game plan this coming quarter to ensure some progress, albeit less than expected, in the project. It's true we don't have the necessary materials/tools to make a robust prototype and do excessive failure testing, but there is still some room to make some prototype. That part is for a little later though. First we'll explain how this quarter is roughly planned out!
Reflecting on something we could do remotely, we immediately thought of the documentation, which all lives in online files. Well, what about documentation? Further introspecting, we remembered how difficult it was for us to sift through all the material(s) of previous years to find relevant info. Data on what worked, and what didn't was all there, but the process to find it was very roundabout. Thus, our first, remote goal of this quarter is to create a streamlined document, a guide/crash course, for next year's team to ensure smooth handoff of the project. So the hours spent looking for information like technical specs can better be used designing and making prototypes, something we fell behind on in winter. To reduce the density of our guide, we resolved to film some short segments, because a video is more engaging than reading blocks of text. Our outline of the guide is here: shorturl.at/myIW2
We plan to have that documentation completed by the midterm mark, so we can quickly switch our focus to available prototypes and testing. Some team members have hand and power tools and thus can possibly make wooden prototypes. Mainly, we will outsource one prototype to a 3D printer vendor. Regardless, we have a new, working Bill of Materials. Though we are all apart, there is still hope to come up with some project! The second half of the quarter will ideally be solely focused on this build and test. Any interesting results we find will surely be added to the guide.
That's all for now. In these trying times, we're glad to have found a way to forge ahead with our project. Every little difference counts, and if that means we're simply passing the baton to the next team, then so be it. We'll continue proudly!
- Structures Team
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