Feb06

Annual Gingerbread Competition

I was convinced that the best performing structure in our third annual gingerbread competition would fail the shake-table test.  The competition this year was specifically designed to satisfy the crowd’s thirst for destruction: minimum height requirements, limits on “structural” sugar and inedible materials, and a new motorized, bi-directional shake table.  Blue Team’s Sydney Opera House not only met the new rules, it featured curved segments of cookie and open interior spaces (three sided diaphragm?!).  This cookie should have crumbled.  And yet, it beat its competitors and suffered only non-structural damage (loss of ornamental gummy sharks).  The icing held it all together.  Like I’ve always said, cookies being fairly equal, the winning is going to be in the connections.

While physics favored Blue Team’s entry, our panel of judges, invited from amongst our friends in the design community, instead favored Gold Teams’ butterfly garden concept.  I’ll admit, it was beautifully executed and detailed.  They had edible butterflies!  But beauty fades, and for this one very quickly.  It survived a mere six seconds on the shake table, suffering a catastrophic cookie failure at both columns.  This was not much of a surprise: it was top heavy and the columns were shaped like a reduced-beam section (without steel’s ductility).

But what makes this an event everyone looks forward to is the creativity, teamwork, and playfulness demonstrated in many ways across all of the teams.  For example, Red Team won for best presentation by performing an ode to their tower of gingerbread and licorice set to the tune of “Under the Sea.”  Orange and CAD Teams both used edible silver paint and moldable crisp-rice cereal treats to form their structures.  Green Team attempted a double cantilever in replicating the CCTV building, and Admin team could have won for wackiest entry for their candy version of the Winchester Mansion. 

Each year, my appreciation for who we are and what we do grows.  In addition to fun holiday events like these, my colleagues daily demonstrate their willingness to “play” with and test ideas, to answer the challenges of life and work with creativity and passion.  And they do so as a team held together with a common drive and just a spoonful of sugar.

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(clockwise from top left): Gold Team's butterfly garden, shake-table set-up, Blue Team's Sydney Opera House, Red Team's musical presentation

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