Fun At Work Day 2018

In celebration of Fun at Work Day, Tata & Howard employees took a break from lunch and competed in The Marshmallow Challenge!

Table 5 in deep concentration.

Made popular by TED Talks’ Tom Wujec, The Marshmallow Challenge is simple – teams compete to build the tallest freestanding structure in 18 minutes using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to sit on top of the freestanding structure.

Did we mention the challenge is simple? Well…interestingly the challenge is not as simple as it seems – the marshmallow is pretty heavy! In addition, time ticks away very quickly!

While we were having some ‘Fun at Work’, The Marshmallow Challenge was also a terrific team building exercise and we did learn some valuable lessons.

Key lessons we learned from this challenge:

  1. Teamwork is key. Every team member needed to contribute. Working well together was especially effective and efficient.
  2. Testing the design intent

    Testing: Working out theories and testing materials early in the challenge helped formulate the overall design. However, taking too long in the planning impacted the construction time.

  3. Time Management. As we learned from the testing phase, time management turned out to be an equally important lesson. Teams needed to plan and manage enough time to build the structure.
  4. Innovation: Creativity and originality was really the fun part of this challenge. All teams approached this challenge differently and every structure was unique.

Here’s a blow-by-blow account of the competing teams:

At our Marlborough office five teams competed:

Table 1 planning their structure

Table 1 – Mike, Molly and Maya spent a good part of the time planning and testing. They also exercised good time management and built a very stable structure reaching 15 ½”.

Table 2 – Using all their materials, Katie, Jenna and Meghan built the tallest structure at 16 1/2”. Although not the prettiest to look at, it was very stable and even with vigorous table shaking the tower stood tall!  Winning Team!!

Table 3 – Brian, Maria, and Derek had the sad misfortune of their structure collapsing shamelessly into a ½” pile of broken spaghetti!

Table 4 – Although, James, Mary and Karen’s structure measured 10 1/2” after partially collapsing, they finished with time to spare and managed to have some materials left over!

Table 5 – Adam, Matt and Jim ambitiously engineered a very tall structure, but it sadly collapsed under its own weight.  Still, there were some measurable structural components and came in at 8” high.

At our Waterbury, CT office, two teams competed:

The Seniors at work.

The Seniors (Sal, Bill, Dave and Nan) had an early lead and constructed a fairly stable structure of modest height with about 5 minutes left.  However, their table was jarred, and the structure ended up toppling. They could not re-assemble before time ran out.

The Young professionals (Chelsea, Ryan, Kevin, Will, Natalia) used the early stages to plan the construction and had some good ideas, however, they were a little too ambitious with the final marshmallow top and their structure also collapsed.  In fact, it never really stood at all.  And, the final height of their marshmallow was below the table surface!

Young Professionals make progress.

In less than an hour, the Marshmallow Challenge is a fun way to foster innovation and teamwork. If you’re interested, the challenge rules can be seen here [Marshmallow Challenge Instructions].  Hope you find time to  have fun at work too!

Tata & Howard to Conduct Water Asset Management Plan and Hydraulic Study

Turner Falls, MA benefits from $40,000 state grant to improve water system

Turner Fall MAMARLBOROUGH, MA, January 15, 2018Tata & Howard, Inc., a leading innovator in water, wastewater, stormwater, and environmental engineering solutions, was named the principal engineering firm to conduct a water asset management plan and hydraulic study for the water district in Turner Falls, MA.

Turner Falls will soon be able to assess their water inventory infrastructure after receiving a $40,000 grant from the Baker-Polito administration.  Turner Falls is one of ten communities in Massachusetts to receive a portion of $388,000 in grant monies from the state to improve the town’s drinking water systems or wastewater systems.

Tata and Howard, will assist the town in completing an asset management plan and hydraulic study, which will including above and below ground reviews.

Working with Mike Brown, superintendent for the water district, the study will include an inventory of water mains, age of pipes, past inspection reports, dates when wells were installed, and water quality tests.  “I was very excited to see we were qualified, said Mr. Brown.  “Some of our mains are 80-100 years old and could be corroded or built up with mineral deposits.”

According to Karen Gracey, co-president of Tata and Howard, “The grant is specifically for the funding of the plan and study. We are scheduled to begin in February and complete the report by May.”

From the information gathered and analyzed, Tata and Howard will make recommendations for water infrastructure improvements and replacements.